Urban Freight Hubs discussed at Tory Conference

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London-based global courier ParcelHero called for action on establishing urban freight hubs at the Conservative Conference yesterday, and won the backing of Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP.

Anyone who’s sat at home looking out of the window in most residential streets will see the crux of the problem. Almost every day a plethora of delivery vehicles will pass by, each with just one or two parcels to drop off. Why can’t all the parcels be consolidated onto on van which would service the whole street? The answer is of course competition and not collaboration between couriers.

Speaking at the debate on the future of our roads at the party conference in Manchester yesterday, ParcelHero’s David Jinks said that Britain needed to follow the learning gained during the 2012 Olympic Games. He explained “We need to learn the successful lesson of the Olympics when London established freight hubs to slash the number of trucks on the capital’s streets during the Games, pooling distribution and allowing quiet evening deliveries”.

Andrew Jones, Secretary of State for Transport and the man in charge of the national freight and logistics policy was moved by the call. “I do agree with you. I think there is a strong need for transport freight hubs in our cities and it is something we will be pursuing”.

David was speaking at the Conference’s Transport Hub event, where an expert panel was discussing ‘A vision for the Future of our Roads’. The call for a concentrated approach to developing freight hubs also won support from panellist Shaun Spiers, CEO for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who said collaboration was key to reducing the number of deliveries into UK cities.

ParcelHero’s appeal was also supported by Anthony Smith, CEO of the independent transport users’ watchdog, Transport Focus. Anthony said it was a very important that the delivery infrastructure is coordinated more coherently in our cities, and pointed to the fact that a delivery vehicle that regularly dropped and picked up items from a parcels locker at a store near him – reducing the number of deliveries by concentrating them at one point rather than visiting many different homes – was repeatedly ticketed by wardens; and that a more joined-up approach was needed.

The debate, organised by The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), was chaired by its Chief Executive Steve Agg, who said that CILT has supported the concept for a long time and that work is underway in a number of cities to develop a more collaborative approach to deliveries.

One of the immediate issues that would arise is that couriers have markedly different services. Compare DPD with their 15 minute time slots with couriers who could knock on your door at any time between 7am and 7pm and the difficulties of collaboration become obvious.

3 Responses

  1. ~
    Urban Freight hubs?
    That would be Royal Mail then?

    One for Jeremy, ParcelHero need to be careful what they wish for.

  2. While seeing the problem in the Cities I wonder if anybody has thought about the small towns and villages. I used to live in St Ives, Cornwall many years ago. It was not unusual to see a large truck draw up outside a shop the driver get out open up the back and take out a small box about A4 size and take it into the shop. The truck had probably started in Birmingham and had been delivering all his way down. By the time he got to St Ives the back was almost empty except for a handful of small boxes.

    St Ives and several other Cornish Villages were designed around the Horse and Cart. They are not Large Truck Friendly. In addition several Councils over the years have toyed with Drivers only making deliveries at certain times of the day. The problem with this is that they have all worked on the same or similar times of the day. Obviously if a truck is delivering in one town it cannot be elsewhere delivering at the same time. Not even I can be in two places at once.

    So a Transport Hub where Couriers and all other delivery vehicles could drop off their loads to be taken into such places as St Ives makes a great deal of sense to me. However it would probably not be economically viable. However as I have often seen a large artic wedged tight in such as St Ives while trying to get round a corner designed for horses and carts would certainly save great deal of road congestion and damage to vehicles and buildings.

  3. This could possibly work as a regional franchise arrangement where companies bid for the right to act as the local delivery service in each area.

    It would be a good idea to have 2 or 3 companies operating in each region to give some competition on price and service.

    The cost of this service would be higher than the current arrangements and would probably give a reduced level of service.


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