Urban Freight Hubs discussed at Tory Conference

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.