RHA chief executive Richard Burnett resigns

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The chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, has resigned and will end his role on December 31st having spent 7 years in the job.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett resigns
Photo: microlise press release

Although there is no statement from the RHA on its website regarding the matter, nor is there any confirmation on Mr Burnett’s Twitter profile, the news was carried by Motor Transport, with whom the RHA have a close relationship.

The aforementioned report contains quotes from the RHA’s national chairperson, Moreton Cullimore, who said Burnett “had transformed the organisation during his tenure and worked tirelessly for its membership and the wider industry.”

Cullimore also took the time to thank Mr Burnett and wish him well for the future:

“The RHA’s membership has grown significantly and our profile as an association has increased considerably. On behalf of the RHA board of directors and all the RHA employees I would like to thank him for everything he has achieved and wish him the very best for his future endeavours.”

Moreover, Mr Burnett is quoted in Motor Transport as saying he is keen for a new challenge:

“After seven unforgettable years as the RHA’s chief exec I have decided it is time for me to step down. It’s been a challenging time for so many reasons and I have given all my energy to representing our members and the industry as a whole, but now feel ready for a new challenge. I’m incredibly proud to have led the transformation of the RHA during my time here, creating the strong and diverse association we see today. None of this would have been possible without the dedication of the RHA staff and support of our members. Thank you.”

The above quote also shows how the chief executive has worked through what has “been a challenging time for so many reasons”.

Mr Burnett’s resignation comes roughly two months after a Kent logistics firm quit the RHA and said it would only consider returning if Mr Burnett left his role. It is as yet unclear if Mr Burnett’s decision to quit has in any way been influenced by those who held the same view.

In an open letter published in mid-October, Andrew Baxter, CEO of Europa Worldwide Group, blamed the RHA for the leak that some believe sparked the recent panic buying of fuel in the UK. Mr Baxter also criticised the RHA for not encouraging hauliers to prepare for Brexit:

“The RHA has undermined preparations for Brexit, by constantly telling hauliers that they could not prepare for Brexit when the vast majority of what was required was clear. It should have recognised and understood that the very nature of the negotiation with the EU would mean that some details would only be clear at the last minute. Hauliers should have been encouraged to prepare for what was known, and to react to the remaining details when they were known. The RHA was substantially responsible for the current fuel crisis, by leaking information regarding fuel stocks, which has damaged the country and the haulage sector. British hauliers don’t need political posturing, what they need is a serious representative body that works constructively with government to achieve genuine results for the transport sector.”

The RHA has emphatically rejected the claims made by Mr Baxter and others that it leaked information that sparked the panic buying of fuel in early Autumn.

Most of the criticism regarding the alleged leak has actually been aimed at Rod McKenzie, the RHA’s Managing Director of Policy & Public Affairs. At the time of the fuel crisis, he was accused by Conservative-supporting tabloids of deliberately creating panic because he is ex-BBC and a “remainer”.

However, it is Richard Burnett who has ultimately decided to leave the organisation after leading it for a 7 year period that covered the Brexit referendum, the withdrawal process, the post-Brexit climate, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: Microlise Press Materials

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