The PRA has called on the government for an urgent clamp-down on the re-opening of “endemically non-compliant” hand car washes (HCW) following the lockdown.

Earlier this month chairman Brian Madderson wrote to Secretary of State Alok Sharma about the “reliability of this sector to adhere to the clear guidance and keep people safe”. He is frustratingly still awaiting a response.

“I am very concerned and appalled that the Local Government Association (LGA) have been saying to local councils that it’s ok for hand car washes to start up again,” said Madderson. “We had notice of a hand car wash in Sittingbourne that has opened.

“These hand car washes can supposedly start up provided they’re meeting all self-distancing regulations and all Public Health England regulations.

“Yet following the Office for Labour Enforcement round tables on HCW in January and workshop in February, the interim director of Labour Market Enforcement, Matthew Taylor, told the Resolution Foundation that “all HCW are endemically non-compliant”. He also said “the only recourse was to establish a compulsory licensing scheme within two years”.

“So if they’re ‘endemically non-compliant’, what on earth are local councils doing saying they can start up if there are regulations which they have to observe, because there is absolutely no way they’ll observe them because they’ve never observed any regulations hitherto.”

Madderson added that the LGA had published a 29-page guidance on hand car washes which also confirms HCW are not always compliant, but that it doesn’t have any resources or funds left to enforce the regulations.

“It’s another absolute cop-out by government allowing these hand car washes to start,” stressed Madderson. “The current pandemic would have been an ideal opportunity to bring in some form of regulation check/enforcement check, before allowing them to start.”

In his letter to the Secretary of State, Madderson wrote: “We are convinced that allowing vast swathes of endemically non-compliant HCW to start operations after the effective lock-down period (either by local authority encouragement or by default) could be extremely dangerous at this stage of the pandemic…

“…It is our strong recommendation that all non-compliant HCW are not permitted to re-open and that when the time is appropriate, they all have to be subject to a proper licensing regime – perhaps using the Responsible Car Wash Scheme (RCWS) which has been devised by government and industry.”

He stressed that it was an “urgent matter” which needs to be addressed before local authorities inadvertently allow the virus to be spread by “endemically non-compliant businesses”.