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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Well after my mid-March forwarded note to Lord Adonis and Mr Clark from the DoT, I received a bog-standard response from VOSA.

I decided t reply to this, having just discovered that VOSA has a new CEO.  Stephen Tetlow seemed to have been moved aside to another DoT division, and Alastair Peoples has appeared on the scene taking over the CEO-realms of VOSA.  What more of an opportunity do i need to start letter writing again to these motley folks!

"I have been in contact with your predecessor, Mr Tetlow, and you colleagues since 2006 after a life-threatening incident affected my Renault Clio Mark-2, and the infamous Bonnet Catch Failure, which continues to exist in the UK market place.  Following an email addressed to the DoT Cabinet members, Lord Adonis and Mr Clark your office has responded.  I must admit I was quite expecting the standard denial by VOSA, but it was still quite a disappointing response to receive this in any case.

According to your Code of Practice, a “Safety Defect is a feature of design or construction liable to cause significant risk of personal injury or death”.   I am still confused how the Clio-2 Bonnet safety risks are not classed as defects, as your recall databases has bonnet catch failures from Mitsubishu L200, Audi 100, Leyland DAF 200, Peugeot 406/308, Renault 19 (Phase 2), Vauxhall Frontera, Mercedez-Benz C202, Mazda MX6/626 and Alfa Romeo 156/147 – all of which had issues the functionality of the bonnet catch mechanism and were deemed a safety defect and required a formal Recall under the UK VOSA Recall / EU RAPEX system.  Some of these required maintenance intervention, others required replaced parts/mechanisms – irrespective, defects were determined and recalls issued responsibly.

The formal process of notifying users of a safety risk is the VOSA Recall system and not, as you seem to imply, sending a courtesy advisory notification “inviting” owners to visit their dealership.  As you will know this contravenes your own guidelines for safety risks.

I do not agree that you and Renault have done enough.  You all keep referencing a Report which was written without any independent technical experts inputs.  Your own staff confirmed that you didn’t have the skill to complete such an investigation, so relied on Renault to supply the engineers / report inputs.   I am not sure of your internal processes, but this doesn’t appear that transparent or impartial to me, and really seems to imply we have a broken process within VOSA on how you investigate safety issues.  I am looking for the impartial VOSA evidence that no defect exists?  I have not seen this as of today, which VOSA repeatedly seem to reference exists.  You need to proof a defect doesn’t exist, not the other way around.  If there is insufficient proof, a precautionary recall should be issued without question.

“Maintenance” is being used in the wrong context; the parts were designed and manufactured as maintenance-free (where does maintenance fit in as the prevention?).  I understand that they are no longer maintenance-free (confirmed from VOSA/Renault).  This means that they have changed from the original design and construction specifications laid out by the manufacture – and as such, implies that a defect is evident in the bonnet catch specification.  There is no evidence to the contrary.  If corrosion is the root-cause behind my particular incident, then this is not owner-error (nothing to do with how I closed the bonnet) and should be nothing to do with maintenance (as this was not mandated prior to the incident); meaning the mechanism was at a safety risk at the time of my incident.  The only supporting statement is that a safety defect was present in the mechanism at the time of my incident. 

There is only one acceptable approach by VOSA to enforce a full and formal recall for the Renault Clio-2 model within the UK and Globally, and the mechanisms are replaced with a more robust mechanism (design / construction).

This is the responsible attitude I am expecting and nothing less.  I am hopeful that VOSA are in agreement with this approach as the only way to stop these risk incidents re-occurring.  Your current approach is simply not working, and it is not too late to resolve this safety risk and defect.  VOSAs and Renaults inactions are simply not honourable or responsible and put both organisations into disrepute.  I still do not know why we are still talking about this, we should be talking about an aligned resolution strategy and the required actions that Renault would need to be undertake to mitigate a defect that causes significant risk of personal injury or death.

Please do the honourably thing and work with Renault-Nissan group to fully resolve accordingly?  You should enforce the policies which you are responsible for."

Lets see what response I get from this - no expecting much movement, 'cos that would be asking a bit much.  I send this note directly to Alastair Peoples, and copied in the ministers of Lord Adonis and Paul Clark!

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