Operators joining newly privatised Fors later this month will pay from £485 up to an eye-watering £11,250 in annual fees to be part of the benchmarking and safety initiative.

The new pricing, which sees operators charged on the basis of fleet size and number of operating centres for the previously free service, takes the form of an annual subscription and separate audit fee.

Existing Fors members (such as Cemex, pictured) will pay on renewal, and receive a sliding scale of discounts for the first year after day-to-day running transfers to Aecom.

The consultancy group will take on the running of Fors from 17 February, with support from CILT and Fleet Source, and is charged with rolling the scheme out nationally.

With construction firms Mace and Laing O’Rourke demanding bronze Fors from contractors, accreditation is a must-have for those in the building sector. More than 210,000 vehicles and 2,400 companies are now in Fors.

Gary Wood, director of training and tachograph analysis firm Plumwood, said: “My clients fall into three camps: those who have to have it [as they work in construction]; those who like to have it for the kudos; and those who never go into London or have never been asked for Fors [and won’t now renew].

“The first group is resigned to paying whatever the cost. The second group objects to the audit fee. When the audit is free it’s a nuisance, at £235 a re-sit it’s a different matter.”

Luke Busbridge, business development manager at Fors gold-accredited D&G Noble, said: “Being a Fors member has been advantageous with increasing safety standards and when tendering for business. But the new charge we face as a gold member of about £1,250 a year is quite a jump from what was a free service. We’ll have to review what benefits membership now brings over the next 12 months before renewing.”

However, Bob Dempsey, operations manager south at Wilson James, which runs the London Construction Consolidation Centre welcomed the change: “I think that Fors has gone as far as it can with TfL.”

Dempsey said that while the pricing seemed fair, he would not want to see it increase, nor the equipment required for each of the levels upped any more.