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Mike Penning MP opens 400th ATF, at HTC Hemel Hempstead

The 400th ATF (Authorised Test Facility) was opened today (8 January 2014) at the new HTC Hemel Hempstead DAF depot by local MP Mike Penning, former Under Secretary of State for Transport responsible for the 10-year LSTs (longer semi-trailers) pilot.Mike Penning MP

It’s a significant milestone for DAF, HTC owner Ballyvesey Holdings (which also owns Montracon), the HTC TRP all-makes aftermarket sales depot and the new DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which now takes in VOSA and the DSA).

For DAF, it’s the 40th ATF at a DAF-aligned dealership, giving the market-leading truck OEM 10% of the ATF market, following an investment that managing director Ray Ashworth estimates at some £7million.

For Ballyvesey and HTC it puts another brand new, professional ATF lane in a busy part of the country, adjacent to the old Buncefield site – and incidentally with an tanker ADR lane already prepared and ready to open soon.

And for the DVSA, this is further vindication of its initially unpopular policy, started almost four years ago under VOSA, to move MOT testing of HGVs and PSVs out of publicly-funded VOSA sites and into local, privately-owned businesses, manned by DVSA testers.

According to Alastair Peoples, CEO of the DVSA, it’s all about reducing the burden on commercial operators by taking vehicle testing closer to operators. And given that 72% of annual CV testing is now done at ATF’s he claims that as a success.

“The ATF network is part of DVSA’s Testing Transformation Programme, which gives customers [operators] more choice of where to go for tests, while at the same time reducing vehicle down-time,” he stated.

And observing that the 399th ATF, opened just two days earlier (6 January 2014) as far north as the Shetland Isles, following 18 months of work, he added that open access to professional, well-equipped ATF sites all over the country is now impressive, while VOSA’s worrying £47m deficit of four years ago has now been all but erased.

It’s all part, he said, of DVSA’s change of approach, under his stewardship to focusing on helping transport operators to be compliant “or helping them to leave the transport industry”, while building up first-time pass rates and keeping fees down.

Presenting HTC Hemel Hempstead with a certificate to commemorate the official opening of the 400th ATF, Peoples said: “I feel proud of the ATF record so far and I know local operators and drivers in the Hemel Hempstead area will quickly see the benefits of having a greater choice of where they can have their vehicles tested.

“ATF customers across the country tell me they have seen savings on fuel costs, vehicle down-time, lower CO2 emissions and improved first-time pass rates – and I fully expect to hear similar feedback from operators and drivers using this facility.”

For HTC Group, Peter Gibbons, aftersales director, said: “All at HTC are very excited regarding this wonderful opportunity to take our new depot in Hemel Hempstead one step closer to becoming the complete one-stop shop for all customers in the area.

“The opening of this ATF Lane today along with all the other services this brand new site offers will, without a shadow of doubt, enable us to raise the bar even higher.”

Article Source – Transport Engineer.

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