I write this post-Budget, or ‘Autumn Statement’ in new money.

If there’s one thing the Government – any government – fails to understand it’s the issues motorists and businesses have to deal with on a regular basis.

Watching from the sidelines this year, I saw many of my peers struggle with the vagueness of Chancellor Hammond’s desire to fiddle with vehicle excise duty. 

It took a good few hours for the fleet and business press to decipher exactly what Speadsheet Phil announced, but to their collective credit they did a better job than the man himself. And the mainstream press? Not so much.

My point? Like with the fuss over the proposed ban on sales of new conventionally fuelled vehicles, the specialist hacks earned their pennies with precise analysis and commentary of what was in reality another fumbled policy statement.

And in a world of ‘influencers’ and click bait headlines we need experts in our field more than ever, to decipher often complex and vague technology and legislation respectively and present it to the masses in easy to understand language.

It’s disappointing, then, to see mainstream outlets flounder in this regard. Motoring is increasingly being seen as a convenient punch bag, yet facts and sensible analysis appear in short supply.

Please don’t confuse this sentiment with cheerleading, though. It’s perfectly possible to challenge misinformation and negative campaigning yet be supportive and offer balanced views. I’ll happily leave the cheerleading to the new a wave of electric car evangelists.

Maybe this is now a good time to revisit our Knowledge Garage. Trustworthy commentary is always needed, even at a local media level. Naturally, there’s the opportunity to boost your own profile, and with the list of relevant topics increasingly impacting everyone’s lives  – new technology, consumer issues, environmental matters – there’s considerable potential to be a voice of reason in an otherwise noisy media world.

One more thing. It’s not escaped my attention that I’ve got some big shoes to fill following Robin’s time as group chairman. Hopefully I can repay the group’s trust in me with at least a fraction of his dedication and enthusiasm. 

There’s no question that our driving day needs to be successful. Naturally it’s got to make sense financially. And let’s not forget the positive exposure for the group and goodwill it fosters among the wider industry community. Suggestions are always welcome, such as who to invite or tweaks to the format, as are offers of assistance prior to the big day itself. DD2018 is just about six months away!

On behalf of thewesterngroup I wish all, members and industry colleagues and your families, a very happy Christmas and a hopefully prosperous New Year.

Iain Dooley | Chairman WGMW 

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