Roads could become icy death traps this winter due to shortage of gritter drivers

BRITAIN’S roads could become icy death traps this winter as councils face a shortage of gritter drivers.

Local authorities are scrambling to find people to drive the mammoth salt spreaders over their highways in the coming months.

Councils usd contracted staff or bin drivers to keep the roads free of ice during the frozen weather, and now the LGA warns some authorities “may find that their gritting services are affected”.

Last month 18 councils had to suspend bin collection after a shortage of drivers meant they could get lorries out on the streets.

And some drivers are contracted out to help in the worst weather conditions.

But the shortage of HGV drivers has meant councils can’t fill vacancies for 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.

“As they do every year, councils will be working proactively to plan ahead and ensure that their winter services are as resilient as they can be.”

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.

'PERFECT STORM'

“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.

“We want to work with Government to address these short term staffing issues to ensure people across the country can continue to receive the services they rely upon.”

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.

"These issues aren't going to disappear, no matter how much the Prime Minister tries to ignore them or blame others.

"Until the Government gets a grip, ordinary people will continue to pay the price for the major labour and skills shortages that will make an already critical situation worse."

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