In a statement, co-founder Peter Woodhouse says the fellowship is “in discussions with parties we consider pertinent in helping to make the scheme a reality”.
He says a requirement for bodyshops to meet an agreed standard would benefit the whole industry. This is a popular idea in some European countries where centres cannot operate without at least one licensed master technician. It is also an initiative the Body Repair Industry Campaign has been proposing.
Support for licensing is strong in the UK. According to Bodyshop magazine's industry survey, 63 per cent of the 500 centres interviewed are in favour of similar proposals. But the fellowship is unwilling to flesh out its ideas. It says that to get a licence, bodyshops would have to meet agreed standards – but it is not clear what those standards are. When AM contacted the fellowship, it declined to discuss why it believes a licensing scheme is needed.
It would not say who would evaluate a site or award the licence. It would also not clarify whether a licence would be awarded to an individual technician, a bodyshop owner, the centre itself or an entire network. It is also uncertain how long the licence would last or the likely costs involved.
More questions are left unanswered about how the scheme would be policed and what penalties would be imposed on bodyshops that broke the rules.
Sewells Research consultant Chris Oakham supports the case for licensing, but says the fellowship is struggling to get its message across. “I do not understand what they are getting at – it is confusing,” he says. “They have presented a case for licensing without saying why we need it. I cannot figure out how the scheme would work.”