Lack of gritter divers 'will turn British roads into death-traps'

We’re up grit creek! Lack of gritter divers will turn British roads into death-traps this winter warn local government chiefs – as families are told driver shortages mean they will have to get used to higher food prices

  • Continuing shortage of HGV drivers in Britain could cause chaos this Christmas
  • Councils fear they may not be able to find gritter drivers to salt icy roads
  • Even last month 18 councils suspended bin collection after a shortage of drivers 
  • Comes as major food maker says people must get used to higher food prices

Britain’s roads could be more dangerous than usual this winter because of a potential shortage of gritter drivers.

Local authorities across the country are believed to be in desperate need of people capable of driving the huge salt spreading lorries to keep highways open in bad weather.

Whereas before councils could use contracted staff from other sectors, the ongoing HGV driver shortage has meant councils can’t fill vacancies for drivers, according to The Sun.

Last month it was reported that 18 councils had to suspend their bin collections after a driver shortage meant lorries couldn’t get out on the streets. 

Britain’s roads could be more dangerous than usual this winter because of a potential shortage of gritter drivers

According to the Road Haulage Association, the UK shortfall in HGV drivers is estimated to stand at 100,000.

The government is running a HGV training scheme ‘skills bootcamp’ which hopes to quickly train 5,000 drivers.

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, said: ‘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.’

He warned that improving wages for drivers in the private sector will only make the situation worse – as councils will be unable to match their pay.

He added: ‘Councils are keen to work with Government and partners to support more training for these demand sectors, however this is a lengthy process and does not alleviate the short term pressures on frontline services.’

Signs reading ‘Sorry out of use’ are displayed on the pumps of a closed petrol station in London

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon said: ‘We are facing a perfect storm of empty shelves, dry forecourts and services not delivered thanks to the Conservatives’ failure to plan for or even acknowledge the scale of this crisis.’

It comes as Britain faces a looming ‘winter of discontent’ from a series of ongoing crises.

Soaring gas prices have been affecting consumers as well as businesses, with some energy-intensive producers struggling to stay open.   

Last night the boss of the company that makes Heinz Baked Beans said people must get used to higher food prices ‘across the board’.

Miguel Patricio, chief executive of Kraft Heinz, said the food giant was ‘raising prices around the world’ after surging demand coupled with higher energy prices had pushed global food costs to a ten-year high.

Britain faces a looming ‘winter of discontent’ from a series of ongoing crises. Pictured: Empty shelves in an ASDA store on October 9, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales

Last night Miguel Patricio, chief executive of Kraft Heinz, said people must get used to higher food prices ‘across the board’

Consumers will now need to get used to paying more, Mr Patricio told the BBC, though it was up to the food industry ‘to try to minimise these increases’.

Kona Haque, head of research at agricultural commodities firm ED&F Man, said: ‘Poor harvests in Brazil, drought in Russia, reduced planting in the US and stockpiling in China have combined with more expensive fertiliser, energy and shipping costs to push prices up.’

In a bid to curb the growing panic, supply chain boss Shane Brennan of the Cold Chain Federation has stepped in to urge Britain’s supermarket giants to work together to save Christmas.

He told The Grocer: ‘The biggest choice every one of the major supermarkets has got this week is: are we going to have a survival of the fittest Christmas or are we going to all work together and try and get through Christmas?’ 

Boris Johnson, who is insisting it is ‘not the job of government to come in and fix every problem’, has appointed ex-Tesco boss Sir Dave Lewis as his new supply chain crisis tsar with a remit to clear ‘blockages’ and ‘pre-empt potential future ones’ after dismissing concerns over labour shortages, Britain’s creaking supply chain and fears over rising inflation.

But he has chosen to go on holiday to Marbella with his pregnant wife Carrie and their 17-month-old son Wilf, in a move likely to infurirate business leaders who had slammed his ‘vacuous’ and ‘economically illiterate’ speech at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester last week.

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