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take the fight to social media

BDN’s editorial for our May issue appears below. It might make a difference if our readers could cut and paste it on to social media.

Disseminating the news article, pasted on the end, might also help.

 

BDN editorial, May 2016

 

What are the politicians playing at? At best it’s procrastination. At worst they have decided they are not going to stick to their word. There are reasons to fear the latter. It is now 13 months since the government promised to include electric PTWs in the plug-in grants scheme that had been benefitting the buyers of cars and vans.

The general election was imminent and the announcement made headline news, underlining the green credentials of the Tory and Lib-Dem administration. The grants, they said, would be instituted as soon as the dust had settled.

We are still waiting and, more worryingly, it seems the Minister and his Civil Service advisers are trying to pretend it never happened. If you look on the website of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) the original announcement has mysteriously disappeared. As our e-bike correspondent Paul Blezard commented: “It has been expunged from the OLEV memory banks like some communist big-shot deleted from a politburo photograph in Stalinist times.”

One document remains, prominently stamped with what looks suspiciously like a disclaimer: “This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government.”

Far from helping the situation, the government has acted like a hit and run driver. With an eye on an election it thought it could lose, it sped in, knocked what few e-bike sales there were for six and appears to have left the scene.

If the government truly believes in saving the environment, grants to encourage electric motorcycles are a no-brainer. Plug-in grants for e-bikes would cut emissions and boost the motorcycle industry. Unlike for cars, more e-bikes would also cut congestion.

So why does the government continue to discriminate against motorcycles? Are we to assume that the MCIA’s efforts to convince the powers-that-be that PTWs are “part of the solution” are falling on deaf ears?

Regardless of your attitude towards e-PTWs, if you support the motorcycle industry, if you believe in fair treatment for all modes of transport, then contact your MP, circulate this article on social media and do everything you can to demonstrate that we are not going to accept this unprincipled U-turn.

 

BDN news article, May 2016

 

Was plug-in grants promise a pre-election con?

 

It is now more than 13 months since the government made a U-turn on its discriminatory policy of doling out sizable plug-in grants to buyers of electric cars while refusing to countenance similar support for PTWs.

PTWs, pledged the government in the run-up to the last general election, would at last qualify for the grants and the policy would be implemented as soon as a new administration was in place.

That promise was made on 27 March, 2015. It is now May 2016, 13 months later, and electric-PTW manufacturers, a potential bank of buyers, and campaigners on the environment and congestion are still waiting for it to be honoured.

Worse, and ominously, official reference to the PTW plug-in grant approval has disappeared from government websites, with the exception of one huge document stamped prominently with a red headline that boldly states: “This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat government.”

BDN hopes it is wrong in interpreting that statement as a disclaimer intended to distance this Conservative administration from its previous decision and that it intends to try to renege on its promise.

The prevarication makes a mockery of the government’s much vaunted green credentials and makes the bullish, self-congratulatory statements issued at the time of the announcement by Business Minister Matthew Hancock and Transport Baroness Kramer look nothing short of hypocritical (see box out).

Meantime, the entire e-bike market has been blighted.

That there is demand for electric bikes and scooters is clear from the registrations the MCIA provided for March, which, highly unusually, showed that 106 electric moped scooters were readied for the road. Apparently a pizza delivery company has finally given up waiting for the plug-in grants and has bought a fleet of e-scooters.

Regardless of the solid arguments based on green issues and growing congestion – on grounds of basic fairness the motorcycle industry is surely due some help before the government pulls the plug on its dalliance with electric vehicles.

The sorry tale of political procrastination begins in June 2011 and the launch of the electric branch of the Motorcycle Industry Association at the headquarters of the Greater London Authority, opposite Tower Bridge. He wasn’t scheduled to do so, but Mayor Boris Johnson had a quick spin on two electric motorcycles.

From the day it was launched the eMCI was calling for motorcycles to be included in the plug-in grant for electric cars which had been in operation since January 2011, giving 25% off the purchase price, up to a maximum of £5000. In 2012, the plug-in grant was extended to include electric vans, but two-wheelers and quadricycles were still excluded. Finally, after three more years of lobbying, on 27 March 2015 the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) put out a press release announcing that there would finally be an electric grant for powered two wheelers.

 

There was talk that the grant would be available by the summer, but summer came and went, and so did autumn, and still there was no grant.

People trying to sell electric PTWs complained that the grant announcement was actually working against them because potential clients were naturally holding off from buying ePTWs until the grant came into operation since it was due to offer 20% off the cost, up to a maximum of £1500.

Jamie Masterman of Rieju UK told BDN two weeks ago: “We would have sold far more electric machines if the grant announcement had never been made!”

On the OLEV website, there’s a list of every press release made since February 2015, except, mysteriously, the one about the electric PTW grant. If you type “motorcycle” or “scooter” into the OLEV search box the result is a big fat zero.

Craig Carey-Clinch, who was involved in the original negotiations about the grant on behalf of the MCI, told BDN: “It’s a frustrating situation. Questions have been asked in Parliament and letters have been written to ministers. We are now asking for a face-to-face meeting with the minister to find out why there has still been no action.”

Steve Kenward, chief executive of the MCIA, confirmed that he is seeking a meeting with Andrew Jones, the junior minister for Transport, who now has the OLEV brief. Commenting on the non-appearance of the grant, Kenward told BDN: “Frankly, this delay is unbelievable. The government seems reluctant to embrace the twin benefits of congestion-easing powered two wheelers and green vehicles at the point of use. Fully embracing electric powered two wheelers, (which need no specific charging infrastructure), while recognising the congestion benefits that would be delivered, seems only sensible, and the delay beggars belief.”

 

What the politicians said when they annnounced plug-in grants for ePTWs would go ahead. We are still waiting.

 

“This £7.5 million for electric bikes demonstrates our commitment to all ultra-low emission vehicles … there is now a genuine low-emission choice for everyone and electric vehicles are now ready to go mainstream,” said Baroness Kramer in March 2015. “We are determined that the UK continues to be at the forefront of this vital revolution in transport.”

Business Minister Matthew Hancock trumpeted: “Electric motorcycles and scooters have got fantastic potential and can be a real force for good. This investment shows we are serious about increasing the uptake of cleaner vehicles in the UK …”

 

 

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