Ongoing saga with Merseyside Police re Notifications

The saga regarding the imposition by Merseyside Police of ESDAL for all notifications took an interesting turn in April when Merseyside Police, despite its steadfast position, made available an eMail address for notifications.  This is perhaps a small victory for common-sense and the industry as a whole but the HTA is keeping a keen eye on matters and will continue to bring pressure to bear as the dispute with Merseyside Police is clearly far from over.  Another piece of good news is that Highways England is exploring the possibility of enabling notifications submitted outside of ESDAL (produced manually and submitted via email or produced and submitted via AbHaulier or other commercial software) to be received and viewed within ESDAL using OCR read technology.  This measure would potentially satisfy both Merseyside Police and the abnormal load industry but the precise detail and time scale for rolling this out suggest we may have to wait at least until next year.

In the meantime the advice to HTA members is to continue to notify Merseyside Police by eMail (assuming they cannot or do not wish to use ESDAL) using the dedicated email address until advised not to by Merseyside Police.  The HTA, in association with Cascade Software, has set up an online petition in which any operator affected by Merseyside Police’s insistence on the use of ESDAL as the only means of notification can register their protest.  To date 471 companies have signed the petition. If you would like to add your name to this, click here.

Whilst the HTA is of the view that eMail, post or fax as modes of transmission of notifications complies with the Special Types General Order, Merseyside Police may prosecute operators that do not use ESDAL.  Whilst Merseyside Police continues to provide eMail access for notifications our view is that Merseyside Police is still explicitly accepting notifications by email and that being the case to prosecute an operator on the basis the notification was non compliant (as not transmitted via ESDAL) would amount to an abuse.  It may be that Merseyside Police will change its position and adopt a more aggressive line at which point members would be best advised to either use ESDAL or specialist abnormal loads notification agents (who may still retain eMail access to Merseyside Police). The maximum fine for overloads and other construction and use offences under the general law is now unlimited and operators need to be aware that there is risk of a prosecution and a substantial fine should the Courts rule that Merseyside is able to dictate the mode of transmission of the notification (ie insist on all notifications being sent via ESDAL rather than post, fax or eMail).

The HTA will continue to fight the industry’s corner.