Councils have warned that motorists could be stuck on icy roads this winter because of a shortage of gritter drivers
The Local Government Association says that the public sector is struggling to compete with the gritter driver salaries on offer from hauliers, as the fallout from a shortage of HGV drivers rumbles on.
Council councils have warned that motorists could be stuck on icy roads this winter because of a shortage of gritter drivers.
Local authorities are currently struggling to retain and recruit bin lorry drivers – and this could have a knock-on effect when wintry conditions hit.
Conditions can turn treacherous if roads are untreated after heavy snowfall or temperatures drop below freezing for a prolonged period.
This comes after the National Grid says it expects gas and electricity supplies will meet the country’s needs over the looming winter but prices indicate there is a massive shock to bills on the way.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, says the public sector is struggling to compete with private firms’ salaries.
Transport spokesman David Renard added: “While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted.”
Although he stressed that councils will be trying to plan ahead to ensure their winter services are resilient, he warned additional training for this on-demand sector will “not alleviate the short-term pressure on frontline services”.
Mr Renard said: “Fast-inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.”
It comes as a shortage of HGV drivers continues to cause widespread disruption in the UK – with some of the country’s biggest supermarket chains and restaurants being affected in recent weeks.
Last month, the Road Haulage Association said that the UK needs 100,000 more HGV drivers if it is to meet demand – and with hauliers upping pay packets to entice applicants, it appears councils are coming under strain.
This comes after the Prime Minister has denied the UK is in crisis as both labour shortages and supply issues continue to affect the nation. Amidst the shortages, the PM said that the economy was facing the “stresses and strains that you’d expect from a giant waking up” after the COVID-19.
Yesterday, ministers announced they plan to expand a fast-track scheme to allow up to 5,000 people to be trained as HGV drivers, all with a view to alleviating the current supply chain crisis.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said an additional 2,000 places are going to be opened up, and the courses are free.
But given these courses take up to 16 weeks to complete, trained drivers won’t be hitting the roads before Christmas – fuelling fears that shortages could overshadow this year’s festivities.