Turning to the issues of lorries, Inspector Aspinall told the meeting
about a day of City of London spot checks on HGVs, carried out on 30
September 2008 as part of the Europe-wide Operation Mermaid, which is
intended to step up levels of enforcement of road safety laws in
relation to lorries.
On this one day, 12 lorries were stopped randomly by City Police.
Five of those lorries were involved in the construction work for the
2012 Olympics. All of the twelve lorries were breaking the law in at
least one way.
Repeat: a 100 per cent criminality rate among small random sample of
HGVs on the streets of central London. The offences range included
overweight loads (2 cases), mechanical breaches (5 cases), driver
hours breaches (5 cases), mobile phone use while driving (2 cases),
driving without insurance (2 cases) and no operator license (1 case).
In some cases the drivers were given a warning and in other cases
there was a more formal police follow up.
No information was given on
convictions following this operation.
Inspector Aspinall said that the London construction vehicle market
(skips, cement mixers, construction materials haulage) was very tight
and competitive. Shady operators with dubious standards and legality
exerted a downward pressure on market prices and that was forcing even
the more responsible companies to cut corners in order to win tenders
.** Some companies were even factoring into their costs the
inevitability of a certain number of fines for breaches of the law. **
I found this revelation shocking.