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11th February 2005

Opinion: What Can I Do About It?

Real Classic regular Graham W was worried by what he was hearing about proposed legislation affecting the use of classic vehicles. So he did something about it...

Stories regularly circulate about proposed changes to legislation both in the UK and Europe that if implemented could have seriously damaging effects on our ability to pursue and enjoy our continued use of bikes both ancient and modern. Like many other people, when I read these I get very worried and perhaps angry about it, but in practice do little beyond cursing the government and hoping it won't happen, not to me, not just yet.

The latest round of such stories has really got me thinking. My wife and I both drive classics every day for work and pleasure; and my young son already far prefers to travel by classic than by our 'modern' vehicle. I strongly want to continue using these old vehicles for the purposes for which they were built for many years to come, and I want my son to be able to do the same when he is old enough if he so chooses.

Let's hope he'll have the chance to ride one on the road.

We as classic riders are primarily affected by two areas of legislation. Firstly, that which affects all bikes: This has included such proposals as statutory insurance, power limits, leg protectors, anti tamper measures and bans on home maintenance, intelligent road systems and so on. Secondly, as riders of classics we are also affected by proposals affecting both historic vehicles and just plain old ones. These have included such things as possession tax, removal and disposal of vehicles on private land, scrapping of vehicles over fifteen years old and not considered historic, usage restrictions etc. These are not exhaustive, just a few examples.

While at first sight the situation looks bleak, there are in fact a number of organisations already monitoring proposed legislation, and researching and lobbying hard on our behalf at both UK and European levels. I felt that rather than try to find out about all such proposals and their implications myself, probably an unrealistic task, it would be better and hopefully more effective to subscribe to and support one of the existing bodies. MAG UK

On the organisations lobbying on behalf of primarily more modern bikes the situation has been well covered by Bob Pickett in his article here.

For the issues affecting us as users of FBHVCclassic or historic vehicles there is the FBHVC.

The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs is a grouping of some 350 Clubs and Museums together with over 1500 Trade and Individual Supporters. The aim of the Federation is to preserve the right to use old vehicles on the roads without any undue restriction and to support its member organisations in whatever way it can.

The FBHVC was formed in 1988 out of the Historic Vehicle Clubs Committee and the Classic Vehicle Clubs Committee, together with its predecessors they have now been representing the interests of the historic vehicle community for over 40 years. It is now involved in monitoring legislation and lobbying at both UK and European levels, having through its membership of FIVA a professional lobbyist in Brussels. It is also in active partnership with the Historic Vehicle Research Institute, an organisation that aims to promote and protect our motoring heritage through research.

While the FBHVC is not specifically a motorcycle organisation they campaign on issues that affect all historic vehicles from steam traction engines to lorries, buses, cars and motorcycles. They are accordingly of great relevance and campaign actively on the issues that affect us as classic riders.

It'd be a real loss if the only time you saw one of these was on an exhibition stand...

Many of the clubs to which we already belong are members of the FBHVC, including the VMCC, NOC, BSAOC, VJMCC, TOMCC. The secretary did however point out to me that they have a very tight budget and could not function at their current level on the income from clubs alone - individual supporters are important and their subscriptions make a real difference.

Issues that they are working on at the moment include Continuous Insurance and 'Possession' Tax; and they have recently had 3 amendments accepted by the European parliament for the proposed EU driving license directive.

More information can be found from their website at: although far more is available through the newsletter sent to supporters. They will also have a presence at several shows in 2005, starting with the 25th International Classic Motor Cycle Show at Stafford County Showground on 23/24 April 2005.

The BMFAs a minority group we are very much at risk of legislation that adversely affects us being pushed through. If you value your right to ride the motorcycle of your choice in the manner of your choice then a little time and money put into helping these organisations represent your views effectively could prove to be a wise investment for the future.

The VMCCThey can only exist effectively with our support, and the greater the number of people they can claim to speak for the greater the weight their lobbying will carry.

Thanks to Bob Pickett, the FBHVC and message board regular Andy C.


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