Radiohead join industry call for a fair deal for UK concert hauliers


Fifty leading music industry figures and concert hauliers have joined forces to urge Boris Johnson to secure a ‘cultural easement’ to allow UK firms to continue taking tours across the EU, warning that the industry faces ruin in the wake of the pandemic and new post-Brexit trade restrictions.

In a letter to the Prime Minister the group said “unworkable” new cabotage and cross trade rules which only allow British-registered trucks three stops in Europe before having to return to the UK will stop the delivery of European concert tours and other musical performances.

Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett: “If the UK events haulage industry is to have any chance of survival it needs an EU-wide easement so that trucks moving touring equipment can continue to make multiple stops across Europe.”

Mark Pemberton, representing the Association of British Orchestras, said: “The limits on cabotage have the potential to kill orchestral touring. A typical tour might involve multiple concerts in one country, followed by concerts in another, meaning a limit of two laden journeys within the EU makes using a UK-registered vehicle impossible. But with orchestras often using their own trucks, kitted out at vast expense to protect fragile and high-value instruments, with humidity and temperature controls, it simply isn’t an option to use an EU-based commercial haulier either. Without an exemption from these cabotage limits, it is hard to see how the UK’s world-leading orchestras can continue to perform at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals.”

Colin Greenwood, bassist with long-established British rock band Radiohead said: “The new bureaucracy could threaten the livelihoods of thousands of British citizens who make the UK events industry a success story. Live music is a vital part of our country’s economy. It’s important that Government offers support by helping haulage operators deal with the new documentation following Brexit, including the new European driving permits, new customs permits that they’re going to need, and all the new red tape.”

The letter’s signatories said: “Following the pandemic there will be high demand for events including exhibitions, festivals, concerts and live music – but this will only be possible if specialist hauliers exist across the continent.

“A ‘Cultural Easement’ would allow them to continue undertaking EU-wide movements for concert and event industries.”

“Without specialist concert and events trucks, hundreds of suppliers employing thousands of skilled crews will be unable to provide their services around Europe on music tours undertaken by UK and international musicians.

“The Government’s immediate support will ensure that the UK retains its ability to service this industry in the future and help to save thousands of jobs and livelihoods in the process.”

The signatories also called for short-term financial support for concert hauliers, and a “last resort” grants option for firms to set up bridgehead operations in the EU until easements are agreed.

The events industry contributes £70 billion a year to the UK economy.

Letter to the Prime Minister (Thursday 18 February)

Our proposed solution in the first instance is to call on your Government to seek an EU-wide easement so that UK registered concert haulage trucks may continue to make multiple stops across Europe. A ‘Cultural Easement’ would allow them to continue undertaking EU-wide movements for concert and event industries.

Simultaneously, and in the event that the implementation of this easement is delayed, we ask the UK Government to provide support in three ways:

  1. Short-term financial support to ensure that event haulage companies can continue trading and prepare their drivers with all the necessary documentation to work in Europe. HGV drivers will have to obtain European Driver Certificates of Professional Competence to drive in the EU as well as other required permits and permissions.
  1. Provide grants to UK concert and event hauliers to create bridgehead operations within an EU Member State. This would give them the ‘last resort’ option of registering their trucks with EU licence plates to allow improved cabotage and cross trade movements across all EU27 States. It would also help mitigate the additional costs of moving to a bridgehead operation offshore.
  1. UK Government to confirm easement of our own domestic cabotage restrictions to allow these newly registered EU cultural event and concert trucks to return and work freely in the UK. The Department for Transport has indicated that it would be prepared to move forward on that basis and a precedent is already in place within the car transporting sector.

Letter signed by: 

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive, Road Haulage Association

Andy Lenthall, Production Services Association

Mark Pemberton, Director, British Association of Orchestras

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO,UK Music

Greg Parmley, CEO, LIVE (Live music Industry, Venues & Entertainment)

Phil Bowdery, Chair, The Concert Promoters Association

Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum 

Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust 

Kevin Appleby, Chair, British Association of Concert Halls 

Steve Heap, General Secretary, Association of Festival Organisers 

Dave Keighley, Chair, Production Services Association 

David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition

Greg Marshall, GM, Association for Electronic Music 

Lucy Noble, Chair, National Arenas Association 

Paul Reed, CEO, Association of Independent Festivals  

Tarquin Shaw Young, President, The Entertainment Agents Association  

Stuart McPherson & Andy Bell, KB Event

Natasha Highcroft, Transam Trucking

Ollie Kite, EST UK

Robert Hewett & Steve Berry, Stagetruck

Thomas James Bielby, Star Movement Ltd

Kevin Mooney, Stardes

David Coumbe, Fly by Nite

Terry Goodwin, Conference Haul International

David Barnes, Events Transport Ltd

Kevin Webb, Event Ground Support Services Ltd

Mark Brockhurst, Paul Mathew Transport 

Ross MacGillivray, FMX Event Services Ltd

Jamie Bruce & Warren Symonds, Gravity Media

Chris Eames, CEI

Brian Yeardley, Brian Yeardley’s

Alistair Pugh, London Venue Transfer Ltd

Frazer Bell, Frazer Bell Touring

Jason Abbott, Freemans Event Partners

Graham Tatterton, Shuttle Transport

John Henry, Jamie Henry ‘s

Dani Haines, FCL Event Logistics Ltd 

Ed Cooper, Director Blue-i Theatre Technology Ltd

Scott Maher, Jumbo Express Ltd

Rael Hancock, Dry Hire Lighting

Finn Rasmussen, Interfreight

Rob Burford, LANG UK

Martin & Simon Lett, S & M Lett Haulage

Keith Austin, Event MS

Scott Pulleyn, Pulleyn Transport Ltd

Nick Dew, Really Creative Media Ltd

Sharon Tea, Rockstar Logistics T/A Crossland

Malachy McMullan, Rockstar Logistics T/A Crossland

Paul Clegg, Rockstar Logistics T/A Crossland

Hamish Jenkinson, The Department