SNP Member of the Westminster Parliament for Gordon Constituency, Richard Thomson, has spotlighted the range of issues that contribute to HGV driver shortages and the consequent impact on the supply of goods throughout the UK.
The local MP, along with SNP colleagues, has pressed the UK Government on concerns over the small number of work visas being offered to plug the urgent driver shortage and the lack of test availability to get new drivers qualified.
In addition, Mr Thomson is exploring options with Scottish Government Ministers on how the network of safe overnight parking can be expanded to provide more amenities for drivers and how welfare facilities such as toilets and showers could be improved.
Richard Thomson MP said:
“We are all seeing the impact of the massive shortage of HGV drivers, estimated to be around 100 thousand drivers and some of the big contributory factors such as the loss of European drivers following Brexit and the impact of Covid on availability of HGV driving tests.
“Some of the causes, such as the Covid impact, have been difficult to predict but Brexit issues must be laid entirely at the door of 10 Downing Street. The fact that the Tories are already having to extend the intended duration of their sticking plaster of a drivers temporary visa scheme after only a few weeks is an indication of the shambles they have got this country into.
“I am calling for a better visa scheme to resolve the logistics constraints that are hitting our livelihoods. With my SNP colleagues, we are pressing for HGV Drivers to be added to the UK Shortage Occupation List for a significantly longer period. Otherwise, it is simply not attractive for drivers to come here and fill that urgent need.
“We also collectively need to explore what can be done to improve access to welfare facilities for drivers. They are finding it more difficult each year to access good quality toilet and shower facilities, combined with safe and secure parking areas. Drivers also report to me that the network of suitable stopping areas is too small and that parking costs at many are extortionate.
“As well as tackling the underlying causes with the UK Government, I have also written to my SNP colleague and Scottish Government Transport Minister, Graeme Dey MSP, to explore what options for Scotland may be available to map a way forward on these concerns. Those may be defining minimum standards for lorry parking, providing incentives for investment in parking and driver welfare facilities or even considering planning conditions to ensure that drivers have better welfare and rest facilities where they are making their deliveries.
“The impact of the Tories obsession with Brexit on the haulage sector has been significant. We need to look further at how we can mitigate that damage here in Scotland.”