15.07.2021: Trucks are the wheels that keep tours on the road. Having worked for the likes of Ed Sheeran, KB Event’s Managing Director Stuart McPherson explains the incredible lengths his business has had to go to continue to operate and the struggles ahead.
We knew that the Brexit result on 23rd June 2016 would mean changes to the way our discipline operated, but the horror of the final deal only became apparent at the end of December 2020.
We had spent three years compiling strategies for the various possible outcomes: a No-Deal, a deal that allowed us to continue under similar regulations, a restricted Customs Union Deal and the worst case scenario – a deal that prevented us from free operation and movement in the EU. Guess which one we got…
Under the current Brexit deal, the implications for touring are immense. The new cabotage and customs rules under Brexit have changed the future of touring beyond all recognition.
The revised cabotage rules mean that after a UK-registered truck has made its first delivery to the EU it can either make one further move in the same state and one further move to another EU country, or two crossborder moves. After that, and within seven days of the first move, it must return to the UK.
Furthermore, EU trucking companies face the same restrictions travelling to the UK.
Moreover, as ex-members of the customs union, every load we now carry to Europe must be covered by customs paperwork.
There’s also the question of visas and work permits for touring drivers, which has still not clarified.
Planning a tour is no longer simply about the legality of drivers’ hours and what schedules it is physically possible to achieve.
We are now forced to schedule in truck swaps, border waiting times and the inevitable stops from EU police who may not care that the UK known trucking company is now running on Republic of Ireland plates – a move we made so we could continue to operate.
KB Event knew at the end of 2020 that if we wished to continue touring across Europe, we had no option than to open a company in the EU and to transfer a proportion or possibly all of our fleet across.
In addition, in order to drive these transferred trucks, our UK driving team – despite holding UK CPC’s (Driver Certificate of Professional Competence) – are no longer qualified to drive them!
Subsequently, they have had to sit EU Driver CPC exams which cannot be done remotely.
The final twist of the knife is that myself and my transport managers – who have over 60 years of operational experience between us – are no longer qualified to operate trucks in the EU.
My frustration in having no option than to be taught what I already know is only surpassed by the fact that we find ourselves here at all.
Pre-pandemic, our industry was worth £70 billion to the UK economy. The financial burden for opening up our EU company to allow us to continue working with less restriction within the EU has already topped £200k. This will exceed £500k before we are fully live. This is on top of the impact of the pandemic.
There are many more complications still to be overcome, not least the fact that as I write today, we cannot operate our EU trucks (that we have moved from the UK) here in the UK.
If a resolution to this problem cannot be found, we will need to split our fleet, which further reduces the number of touring trucks we will have available to service tours covering the UK and the EU.
We do look forward to the return of touring in 2022 with huge excitement – but just a little apprehension.