November 2010; Changes to MP’s and Peers registered interests

November 10, 2010

EDIT  19/04/12

The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and these are not necessarily the same as those of the Institute of Physics.

Peter W Jones MInstP

Lembit Opik is no longer an MP.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury is not now listed as a
Parliamentary Advisor to the Caravan Club.

April 2012


David Amess MP

Received 6000 pounds sterling from the Caravan Club

on 21-12-09 and 10/04/11

Eric Illsley MP

Received 6000 pounds sterling from the caravan club

on 16-01-10


Local Councils and Police Authorities.

As I have explained elsewhere in my blogs the police Authorites in the UK are politically controlled by the local councils who nominate councillors as members of these authorities.

The rules for Councillors declaring any financial interests which may have a bearing on decisions they are making on behalf of the electorate are in my view very out dated.  We only know when a Councillor has an “interest” when he/she speaks on an issue as the rules compell them to declare interests at this stage; up to that point only Council Officers know about these interests.

The whole of the Transport Structure in the UK is affected by this matter as the true cost to the economy of  Caravan and HGV Trailer accidents is not known as the Police do not adequately investigate the causes of Road Traffic Accidents.

For further details on this problem see my blogs  


December 11, 2009

Peter W Jones MInstP


The item below had been so distorted by hackers that I have deleted same from the original location and posted it again below

Paragraph 103

Revised Technical Advice from the Caravan Industry/Caravan Clubs.
The item below is a new version in the light of changes made in the latest
2009/2010 CC members’ handbook.
Summary of Advice from PWJ
Until good quality electric/electronic  brakes, caravan aerofoils and anemometers to fit on tow cars, are available in the UK, the maximum safe air speed for a small 4m body length caravan towed with a Land Rover Discovery or similar vehicle will be approx: 50mph, providing that the side wind component is not over approx: 30mph.
As explained in detail in my blogs I have arrived at the above conclusions on the basis of road trailer towing and coastal sailing experience.
Although the Caravan Clubs are non profit making they do confer regularly with the Caravan Industry (the National Caravan Council) as they together run a joint venture for the supervision of the standards of work in a very large number of the Caravan and Trailer workshops in the UK.
The CC, CCC and the NCC therefore effectively control the procedures and training of a very large proportion of caravan/trailer mechanics in the UK.
It follows therefore that the same group of companies/clubs will have executives who will have consulted amongst themselves concerning any requests to the DfT concerning the caravan/trailer over run brake actuating mechanism.
Although the caravan sites run by the CC and CCC are supervised by well qualified and experienced staff, the caravan industry/clubs have never demonstrated that they have any staff/Executives/Club Executive Committee members with relevant professional qualifications in Physics or Mechanical/ Electrical/ Electronic/Civil Engineering.
The UK Caravan/Trailer Companies are unlikely to survive very long unless some enterprising person buys them all and appoints an MD qualified as above to organise them for the future. There is a great demand for caravans and trailers but unless there is rapid reform soon we shall see the same changes as have taken place with motorcycles and cars.
The club caravan sites have such a high reputation that for many years HM the Queen has permitted them to each have a large touring site within the Royal Estate at Sandringham. The Insurance Companies and Holiday Travel Agencies run by the clubs appear to be lucrative and efficient.
The Duke of Edinburgh is Patron of both clubs.
However, it may not have been realised by their Lordships and Members of Parliament that technical advice produced by the Caravan Club is controlled by a few club/industry officials and should be given no more weight than any other submission from a body which has not shown that it is qualified to cope with the complex science of vehicle technology in the modern era.
In spite of this most of the club’s technical advice is of a high standard and the roads would be much safer if more people had regard to current CC advice. It is regrettable that the club/industry is very deficient in the areas I have identified.


The Caravan Club retains the services of 3 MP’s and at least one member of the House of Lords (Currently their Lordships are not compelled to disclose their out side “interests’).
The 3 MP’s are as follows:-
(1) Lembit Opik (Montgomeryshire) up to 10,000 pounds sterling annually
From the caravan club (CC) for advice.
Plus a Motor Home for the week end of 28-7-06, at the expense of the CC,
to attend the Game Fair of the Country Land Owners Association.
( 2) David Amess (Southend West) up to 10,000 pounds sterling annually from the CC for advice.
(3) Eric Illsley (Barnsley Central) Parliamentary Advisor to the CC; up to 10,000 pounds sterling annually.
Only one member of the House of Lords so far identified:-
Lord Phillips of Sudbury; up to 10,000 pounds sterling annually;
Parliamentary Advisor to the Caravan Club Ltd (646027)
Although I have found no written evidence in Hansard that the Technical Advice of the CC has been presented to MP’s and their Lordships I have been informed by e mail from DfT Trading Standards that no action concerning over run brakes is needed as they have had no requests for change.
In addition I feel fairly certain that I am the only person who has passed to the HoC Select Committee on Transport the relevant details of the Bath University Caravan/Trailer Research, and these contained nothing concerning over run brakes.
(The results of Bath University aerodynamic research carried out on articulated lorries will not be available for public scrutiny as long as it was completely funded by the HGV industry.)
The Caravan Club/Industry Research was funded by the latter by the sponsoring of 2 Phd Theses and 2 M Eng Dissertations. As the “sponsoring” would only have covered a fraction of the costs involved these results are deposited with the British Library and are available to the public via a local authority Branch Library.
In addition to the above mentioned matter of caravan/trailer over run brakes the public/parliament have only been informed ( as far as I know) by myself concerning the Bath University Caravan Research on Stabilisers and Aerofoils.
The 1994 Fratilla Phd thesis had a short investigation on Friction based stabilisers which concluded that they could not be relied on to prevent caravan/trailer snaking. The 1999 Standen Phd thesis was entirely devoted to “Towed Vehicle Aerodynamics.” One important discovery he made was that aerofoils would improve the stability of a small (about 4 metres body length) caravan. Standen also described how the wind could cause caravan snaking.
The Christopher J Killer 2003 MEng project on the ALKO friction based stabiliser concluded that the device did not improve the safety of a car/caravan combination. At the caravan store where I keep my small touring caravan about 75% of the 100 plus vans have one of these devices fitted.
At Caravan dealers selling top quality vans I found that about 95% of the caravans were fitted with a Friction Based Stabiliser made by ALKO. ( I visited a considerable number recently as I have purchased another late model 23ft twin axle van to replace my 23 year old 19ft Twin Axle Lunar Delta).


On page 617 of the new Caravan Club Members’ Handbook (technical advice section) there is a list of 17 items to check before setting out on a trip with your caravan. Missing from this list is any mention of a weather check.
(On page 628 
is advertised.
.Strong winds can be a factor at all times of the year and a weather check with
should be number 1 on the CC list in large capital letters. Few other sites will give the strength of the wind gusts expected in each region of the UK for 5 days in advance. Even in remote UK areas it should be possible in a period of 5 days prior to a caravan journey to find a public library or inter net café. On the continent of Europe similar facilities are available.
Addendum on strong winds.
I note that in the January 2009 issue of the Camping and Caravanning Club Magazine there is a reference to a Highways Agency Report claiming that 50% of road users would continue with a road journey despite hearing a severe weather warning of fog, ice, snow, rain or strong wind.
Concerning the “strong winds” forecast the Camping and Caravanning Club is partly to blame for the above lack of respect for road safety as it always follows the Caravan Club in such matters and it can be seen from the above that advice on strong winds needs to be much improved.
The new edition of the CC handbook is due out soon. It is to be hoped that this matter will have been rectified.

Caravan and Camping Club “Tow Car Awards 2008.”
A CCC Magazine Supplement, recently delivered to members.
I am pleased to note that last year’s CCC caravan safety advice has not been repeated in the latest “Tow Car Awards” Supplement. In 2008 the CCC had an item on the web ( which has now been withdrawn) stating that caravans were very safe and the accident statistics proved this.
The statistics prove the opposite if one takes into account the low number of miles covered by caravans and other recreational trailers. (Put “House of Commons Minutes of Evidence Transport Caravan and HGV Trailer Snaking Accidents” in to the search engine of Google to see my short paper on this and other subjects).
The caravan club advice to Bath University (on miles covered by each member’s caravan) in connection with the 1994 Fratilla Phd thesis indicates that


 As all vehicles other than caravans cover, on average, at least 10,000 miles per year, the statistics below need multiplying by at least 10 to give an indication of the risk of an accident when towing a caravan or trailer.
My risk is not so great as I am taking the precautions outlined at the start of this section (headed Paragraph 103).
The following has been copied from the internet:-
Fit To Tow. (Video)
Text Version
Welcome to the
Highways Agency
Managing, maintaining and improving England’s motorways and trunk roads.
Our Traffic Officers work to keep traffic moving and ensure your safety.
Live traffic updates to your desktop make your journey more reliable.
Carol: Of course there are rules about what you can and cannot do and there are risks too. Last year alone accidents involving towing vehicles caused nearly fourteen hundred injuries and forty-three fatalities. So, how do we make sure when we’re towing we do it right?


The 2007 CCC “Tow Car Awards” supplement reminded members (by means of small inserts) of the above CCC incorrect safety claims on many of the pages containing advice on the best tow cars.

I am pleased to note that the above has not been repeated in 2008.


On page 4 bottom left (of the current 2008 supplement) is an insert in blue which starts “Thanks to AL-KO for preparing the caravan ATC units for testing. …..”
We are thus being informed that this device was also part of the test;

page 51 contains a full page advertisement for the ALKO device.

Also on page 4 top right is a heading “AL-KO” followed by a sub heading “The Lane Change.” This paragraph starts, “The most violent of all our manoeuvres was designed to replicate an emergency lane change, …….”
Further down the same paragraph we have “ For the purposes of our test, the device (the AL-KO ATC) was disconnected from the brakes so as not to affect the outfit’s stability. …..”
It therefore follows from this assertion that the executives controlling the caravan clubs and the industry must have little confidence in the safety of the ALKO latest device.

At the bottom left of page 5 we have a heading ‘Braking and Acceleration.”
Emergency stops were carried out from 30-0 mph. I deduce from this procedure that the testers were advised not to risk doing an emergency stop from a more realistic motorway speed when towing a caravan ( even when having the benefit of the ATC) !
Judging from accounts I have read ( see my blogs) of USA electric brakes for caravans and trailers I would be prepared to do an emergency stop from 40 mph as a test with my own outfit
(the Discovery and the Swift 400 SE) if it were so equipped.
Furthermore I think the electric brake would be safe during an emergency lane change; before the value of sterling declined the electric brake hubs were cheaper than the over run brake actuating mechanism plus friction based stabiliser and conventional caravan hubs.
The electric brakes have been used in the USA and Australia for over 30 years. They use established and simple devices (electro magnets in particular). They need updating to electronic control, but at the moment they are the best solution as I can see no evidence of independent testing of the electronic element of the ALKO system. In addition the items revealed by the “Tow Car Awards Tests” must be taken in to account. The old type of friction based stabiliser which ALKO are still relying on (it is used in conjunction with the new ATC) has been tested by Bath University (2003) and myself (2006)
(see elsewhere in my blogs). My test found the old type of friction based stabiliser of no use whatsoever, but due to the lack of understanding by Birmingham Trading Standards and the DfT Trading Standards Department of an item of GCSE Physics, my test has not yet been approved and the public continue to be at risk.

Top right on page 5 is a heading “High Speed Stability.”
The ALKO advertisement on page 51 for the ATC system shows a tow car and single axle caravan overtaking an HGV. Judging from the photograph of the MIRA test track there was plenty of room to have carried out a real test at 60 mph with an HGV as it is quite wrong to imply that a few sharp steering inputs give the equivalent of the aerodynamic effects experienced in a real over taking procedure. Also, I have found that the bow wave effect can be very considerable even when the HGV is moving slowly. (See
Paragraph 3a   in archives for April 2007)

(Look up also the 1999 Bath University Wind Tunnel Research results of a similar over taking procedure. One is inadequately recorded in the CC handbook. Others are recorded in various parts of my blogs).
Finally, the wind speed at the time and site of the test should have been recorded, with an appropriate instrument, and the results displayed in the Supplement together with the advice for particular tow cars. If the wind was above about 5mph there would be variable gusts during testing which would affect the stability of the tested cars/caravans differently in each case.
Even BBC 2 Top Gear uses a wind sock to check for virtually zero wind when towing caravans at very high speed, but to protect the “macho” image they do not advertise the fact. I think that the quick view I got of the limp wind sock was shown by accident.


I have now placed some copies of the pages quoted above from the CCC 2008 Tow Car Awards Supplement in     ( after the diagram)

These copies are of poor quality but they do provide some verification of the items I have quoted above

Hello world!

December 11, 2009



See also