Cutting bureaucracy

AA President joins government in red tape challenge

20 May 2011

The AA has joined with Government to help cut red tape in transport. AA President, Edmund King, will act as a Sector Champion to advise on what regulations can be cut.

The 'Red Tape Challenge' was launched by the Prime Minister on 7 April, giving the public a chance to have their say on the more than 21,000 regulations that affect their everyday lives.

4 weeks to have your say

More than 400 Whitehall road transport regulations have been placed on the Red Tape Challenge website – for 4 weeks up until 17 June.

The site asks everyone whether they think that a regulation is well designed and provides vital protections, or is badly designed, badly implemented or simply a bad idea.

The overall aim is to remove barriers to economic growth and increase individual freedoms. The presumption is that regulations will go, unless it can be justified why a regulation should be kept.

Prime candidates for being scrapped include:

  • The requirement for motorists to have a paper or electronically issued Motor Insurance certificate. Getting rid of this requirement could reduce admin costs for businesses and cut bureaucracy for many people.
  • Regulations specifying that bus companies have to wait 48 hours before they can throw away perishable items that have been left on the bus

The AA wishlist

Issues that the AA wants to see addressed include:

Workplace Parking Levy: This should be scrapped as it acts as a 'tax on work'.

Motorway Service Areas: Could there be more de-regulation to reduce prices? Why can't hotels on MSA's serve alcohol if someone is staying the night?

Parking: Why do some on-street pay and display machines prohibit a driver from giving his un-used ticket to another driver? If someone has bought some time they should be entitled to give it away. Or why do some machines not give change?

Bus lanes: Why do some bus lanes restrict cars for 24 hrs whilst bus services don't run for 24 hours?

Importing cars from EC: AA gets lots of complaints about the complexity of this.

Driving licence: Why should it be renewed after ten years? Tolls: Abolish them at Dartford


Edmund King, AA President and Visiting Professor of Transport at Newcastle University, said: "Good road transport should be about getting from A to B in an efficient, economic, safe, and sustainable manner. It should not be about filling in forms from A to Z or complying with historic, bureaucratic, and irrelevant regulations. The AA supports this initiative to cut red tape whilst maintaining a flexible framework to enable safe and reliable journeys.

"Some regulations, like some yellow lines, are there for historical reasons so should be removed. We encourage all drivers and businesses involved in road transport to get involved in this Red Tape Challenge."

The review also targets a number of arcane and obsolete regulations on the statute books that could run the risk of eroding public confidence in regulations. For example, there are regulations in force dating back to the 2007 foot and mouth crisis allowing milk float drivers to work longer hours. There are also regulations that still exist allowing road closures for the 1994 Tour de France.

The overall aim is to remove barriers to economic growth and increase individual freedoms. The presumption is that regulations will go, unless it can be justified why a regulation should be kept.

Some specific AA breakdown issues

  • Access for accredited breakdown/recovery vehicles to use the Hard Should to speed up attendance and clearance of disabled vehicles – currently we have to ask permission on each occasion which takes time so is seldom used.
  • Use of Bus lanes for the same as above.
  • Use of red flashing lights on breakdown/recovery vehicles to improve safety. (Highways Agency Traffic Officers have special dispensation for this already)
  • Use of 600mm "keep right arrow" by breakdown vehicles – current legislation only allows 900mm sign which are too big to use and blow over (HATO's have special dispensation for this already)
  • Scrap the restriction of 100Km from base for our roadside recovery vans as this inconveniences customers, compromises safety and pushes up costs.