Portsmouth lorries sit idle without drivers amid national driver shortage
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Concerns have been raised on a national and local level about the ongoing lorry driver shortage due to a combination of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Road Haulage Association estimates that around 100,000 lorry drivers are needed to fill the void in the UK.
In Portsmouth companies have been turning to temporary staff to cover lost ground – but it still isn’t enough.
Jim Tyler, managing director of 2mv Logistics in Drayton, said: ‘The mix of Brexit and Covid-19 has been a perfect storm for the haulage industry, with more paperwork but a massive rise in demand.
‘Both of these also had an impact on the European communities in Portsmouth, where many of our drivers actually came from. A lot of them have simply gone home and there’s nobody to replace them.
‘At the moment we have six vacancies and nine agency drivers, and there have been days where we’ve had lorries sat there without anyone to drive them.’
2mv Logistics has 50 staff members, from lorry drivers to office workers.
While the drop in European workers has hindered permanent staff numbers, Mr Tyler believes the root issue lies on home soil.
He said: ‘The big problem that was being masked beforehand was that we haven't got any young people joining this industry.
‘We have to show them that this is a rewarding job – and one that pays well too.
‘The bottom line is that the haulage industry is the backbone of this country, so we desperately need to fill this lorry driver shortage.’
In a letter to the prime minister, the Road Haulage Association has pleaded for government intervention in the crisis.
Chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘We firmly believe that intervention from the prime minister is the only way that we will be able to avert critical supply chains failing at an unprecedented and unimaginable level.
‘Supermarkets are already reporting that they are not receiving their expected food stocks and, as a result, there is considerable wastage.
‘There has never been a more challenging time for this industry.’