No! This post has nothing to do with 007 and his Licence to kill. The Irish Tyre Industry Association (ITIA), of which Heffernan Tyres is a member, is about to embark on a campaign for the licencing and regulation of the Irish tyre industry. The objective would be to provide legislation to close depots that didn't meet a benchmark of compliance or were operating outside of the law with regard to VAT,Insurance, Environment, etc.
At a recent social event, I was having a conversation with a major identity of the Irish car market. The conversation inevitably turned to business and the current conditions in the Irish Automotive industry. I raised the issue of part worn tyres as a scourge to the legitimate tyre trade at the moment. To my surprise my companion then gave me an anecdote about a friend of his with a BMW 5 Series who had purchased a pair of part worn Runflats for his car at €90 cash. ''They're €200 each new, You cant blame people! You'd do the same yourself'' Well no! I wouldn't. The European driver who parted with his part worn tyre did so for a reason. He may have driven it flat for 100km or more at 100KPH or more. The tyre was then repaired (contrary to manufacturers recommendations) here by a part worn cowboy and fitted by an uninsured person. Aside from that they're great value!.
My point here is that if senior identities within the Irish Automotive Industry think like this, we will never succeed in educating the public to the dangers of part worn tyres. We need a different approach.
Black and grey market operations are thriving in Ireland the moment. Cash transactions with no VAT are the order of the day in the shed type tyre shops which have popped up everywhere. Part worns and sometimes stolen tyres are what is on offer. There is no enforced regulation or legal criteria required to set up one of these businesses. A premises and a tyre machine are all that is required to commence trade in the tyre business as it stands.
We need criteria such as training, insurance and health and safety standards put in place as standards necessary for a licence to fit tyres. The dividend for government would be a greater tax take, better safety standards and a reduction of black/grey market activity.
The ITIA initiated a training programme for tyre technicians last year. It has been well received and our manager, Nigel, was very enthusiastic about the standard when he attended. It is the aim the ITIA to have at least one ATA accredited technician in every member depot. He or She can then train their colleagues and contribute to raising standards overall. We can view this accreditation as a ''licence to fit''.
It will set businesses like Heffernan Tyres apart from the cowboys and provide a benchmark for legislation for licencing. This fight for legislation and regulation will be difficult. But the end result will mean jobs, revenue for government and safety for the motorist. And that's worth fighting for.