Something to grouse about?

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Is city logistics about to move back up the political agenda? It’s one of those issues that seems to have taken a back seat in the minds of European politicians in the face of the Greek and Spanish debt problems.

However, a conference in Bonn last month (the third on Resilient Cities) highlighted the challenges facing Europe’s cities. Some 79 per cent of cities are noticing changes in natural hazards, temperatures, precipitation and sea level rise affecting their communities, according to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

A key belief is that these challenges can only be solved if cities develop integrated urban solutions based on solid risk assessments – and that includes city logistics. Martin Brown, programme director for city logistics at Deutsche Post DHL, told delegates:  “Local governments face the challenge of balancing consumers’ increasing appetite for goods and services within cities, with increasing scarcity of supply and the need to respond and react to unforeseen shocks to the system. Good logistics principles become part of the system that balances these demands.”

There have been some notable city logistics projects in the UK involving consolidation of goods on the outskirts including the Broadmead scheme in Bristol, retail at Heathrow, and the Meadowhall scheme in Sheffield. However, companies need a good business case before they will commit to such schemes. All too often that has been lacking. But proponents of city logistics also point to environmental benefits – which have a particular resonance in the retail sector where ECR initiatives are focusing on reducing road mileage.

These considerations are especially relevant in London this summer. With the Olympics only weeks away, Transport for London is telling companies to postpone non-urgent deliveries, stock up in advance and reduce deliveries wherever possible. It also suggests talking to other businesses to coordinate essential deliveries – a concept at the heart of city logistics strategies.

So perhaps this is an idea whose time has come. The London Olympics close on the 12th August – will it be a glorious 12th for logisticians or will be there be something to grouse about?

Malory Davies FCILT,

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