The RHA has put forward a list of ‘asks’ ahead of the local elections taking place in May, to encourage combined authorities to support the freight transport sector and help it transition to net zero.

In a manifesto document, the group said through their convening power, combined authorities can devise strategies to optimise freight movements, alleviate congestion, create cleaner air, provide good quality jobs and enhance economic productivity.

It has called for them to ensure full consultation and collaboration with the industry on any policies that would affect them, such as air quality controls, traffic congestion measures and road safety policies.

The RHA said devolved transport funding should be allocated towards a defined list of local road improvement projects that improved regional freight corridors and it wants education providers to support courses and qualifications needed by the sector:

“Ten years ago, there was one technician available for every 25 heavy vehicles, a ratio that has since deteriorated to one technician per 31 vehicles, and this trend is worsening,” the RHA document said.

“Despite some increases in funding for mechanics courses, there are ongoing challenges in ensuring the viability of training programs, particularly in heavy vehicle technician apprenticeships.

“Technological advancement means the number and cost of rigs required to teach courses is always increasing, combined with historically low funding levels continuing despite recent increases.

“One key historical factor contributing to the scarcity of heavy vehicle mechanics is the reduction of specialised courses in colleges over the last decade. The number of sites offering heavy vehicle apprenticeships in England stands at 36, compared to 127 sites offering light vehicle apprenticeships, creating a clear disadvantage in recruiting heavy mechanics.”

It has also requested the continuation of Cat C bootcamps for those looking to join the industry and the introduction of bootcamps for Cat D licences, tyre fitters and vehicle inspection.

Richard Smith, RHA MD, said: “Combined authorities play a crucial role in strategic planning, particularly in transportation, skills and business support.

“It’s essential they continue to collaborate with the haulage and coach sectors, and other key players to drive regional and national economic growth.”

Elections will take place in 107 local authorities across England on 2 May.