The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP met North West representatives of the Road Haulage Association last Friday and was shocked to hear the costs that local hauliers were having to pay compared to their Continental European competitors.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Atkins MEP met North West representatives of the Road Haulage Association last Friday and was shocked to hear the costs that local hauliers were having to pay compared to their Continental European competitors.

'Vehicle Tax for a 40 ton lorry in France is £437, in the Netherlands £602 and Belgium £835. In the UK it is £5,750 - a scandalously high figure.' declared Sir Robert. 'The annual duty on diesel is £10,078, £9,142 and £7,663 respectively. In the UK £19,767 - a huge difference. Is it any wonder that road hauliers are desperately worried about their futures and those of their drivers?"

The local Road Hauliers Association members - from various parts of the N.W. Region - were all small to medium-sized operations and struggling to make ends meet. The N.W. MEP was told that French firms were filling their tanks with enough cheap fuel in Calais to operate for up to a fortnight on British roads, using low-paid East European drivers and paying no extra costs for operating in the UK. 'We simply cannot match their cowboy tactics,' they said, 'and if they continue we will go out of business and put hundreds of local drivers out of their jobs.'

"The Chancellor must address this issue in the Budget," urged Sir Robert, "and I shall pursue the unfair competition through the European Parliament. Simple equity, let alone local jobs, demands that the Labour Government look to British interests and reduces this huge burden of taxation upon British hauliers."

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