The end of 2014 is fast approaching and a major subject on people’s minds is UKIP and immigration. ’Take us out of Europe’, they cry and send back the illegal immigrants to their country of origin.
This influx of keen, young labour has been coming for decades of course, but in recent times it has been mirrored by the growth of unregulated hand washing. I admire these guys, working hard in all weathers for poor pay. Many of them will reach their ultimate goal of a life better than they could achieve in their own country.
I just wish they could do it without flouting our country’s environmental, taxation and employment laws.
I have been beating the environmental drum now for some eight years. It has been, and will always be, a very gradual process. I know that local authorities, water companies and agencies are much better informed about the problem now and some areas are really clamping down.
It is demand that has fuelled this revolution: as an industry we have stayed pretty much the same for the past 30 years. Innovation drives demand and we have not been innovative enough. Low price is not always the answer, but value for money is. When a customer drives away from Parkfoot with their car shining they return because they were happy to spend £9 on our top wash and polish. Around the country there are great examples of sites offering great car washing whether it is by hand, jet, rollover or tunnel.
Between them all, we have shifted the washing of cars from outside houses to purpose-built wash locations. Those that offer value have seen growth.
The VOA (Valuation Office Agency) has just asked me to comment on car washing in the UK. This time the rates revaluation will show a marked difference to the last time, as there are fewer sites with wash facilities and a reduced turnover. They will, of course, point to success stories and argue an increase in site rents. I will counter this argument with the point that it is the hand washes that must bear the brunt of rates increases or indeed payment of rates for the first time.
So my message to the Euro sceptics of all parties is: clamp down on the unregulated washes, the rates imbalance will ease, the environment will improve and the easy illegal jobs for immigrants will begin to disappear.