How is the rising cost of travel effecting tradespeople?

How is the rising cost of travel effecting tradespeople?

It was Jose Mourinho in his pomp who came up with the immortal line that teams coming to play his all-conquering Chelsea team would invariably park the bus at Stamford Bridge. Well, these days you wouldn’t want to leave even a small family saloon anywhere near the stadium with latest figures showing the local borough council charges more than £6.00 per hour to park up. That’s up a third in the past four years and, for a diesel vehicle in a high tariff area, it means being there for ten hours can result in a bill of £88.50 when other environmental charges are included. In fact, with the Capital’s £15 congestion charge, and an emissions fee of £12.50 on top, it’s not uncommon for the bill to amount to a staggering £139 for a single visit.

Not that the tentacles of the green motoring agenda are confined just to our capital city, of course, with Bath and Edinburgh to name but two quick to follow TFL’s lead, with significantly increased parking charges and so called clean air surcharges. Like everyone, of course, we heartily welcome measures that help improve the quality of life in our towns and cities, and reduce the impact polluters have on the environment, but surely the time has come to clearly differentiate between the causal tourist and the thousands of people who have built businesses on the back of supplying big city dwellers and workers.

Already there are worrying signs that many tradesmen, faced with the exorbitant costs of travel, are simply turning their backs on jobs within the city walls. As one disgruntled reader emailed us recently: “At one time I could have two or three gangs working for up to three months on basement and loft conversion work in and around the upwardly mobile Islington area but these days it’s simply not worth the hassle. It’s already hard enough passing on the spiralling cost of materials and labour to my customers without trying to justify as much as another two grand on the job simply to cover travelling expenses. No wonder so many people are looking to up sticks and move to the country and not just because of Covid. If this continues it won’t be long before vast swathes of the Capital’s housing stock are falling into disrepair and all the knock on effects that has on a post pandemic society.

It is a trend picked up by the Federation of Master Builders who report that eighty per cent of their members have had to raise their prices as a result of the unprecedented cost of parking, and, as they can now longer absorb that extra level of expense, some are considering pulling out. As we have seen in the past, vacuums such as this are invariably filled by opportunists who will look to save money by cutting corners and carrying out poor quality work. All of which helps perpetuate the myth that all builders are cowboys, something the industry has worked extremely hard to combat in recent years.

Given all that we have faced in the past eighteen months it is truly staggering that, at a time when we need the powerhouses of our towns and cities to start driving the economy, tradespeople are being further hamstrung by such punitive daily running costs. Hardly surprising that so many now consider the green agenda as nothing more than a back door tax on businesses.

Britain is very lucky to have, as the popular media likes to refer to them collectively, an army of white van men and women diligently going about their business every day. However, those once proud legions who routinely roamed our city centres are now in real danger of being reduced to an ever diminishing bunch of undisciplined mercenaries.

If you are one of the fortunate ones to be parking up your van at home for the full duration of the imminent festive break then may we take the opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very merry and healthy Christmas. We certainly deserve it!

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