Lack of drivers having 'massive impact' on Suffolk businesses

Robert Baxter (L) and Paul Day (R) have raised serious concerns about recruitment in the transport trade

Robert Baxter (L) and Paul Day (R) have raised serious concerns about recruitment in the transport trade - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/NORRIE3699/ David Garrad/ Sylvaine Poitau

Huge concerns have been raised about the far-reaching impact the lorry driver shortage could have across Suffolk if more is not done to retain staff.

The widespread shortages have resulted in delays to the supply chain, with fears Christmas could be majorly impacted this year.

Speaking at the How To Retain Great People event held by Larking Gowen earlier this week, a number of industry leaders said that the lack of drivers was already having 'massive impact' on their businesses, with concerns it would only get worse.

One of the attendees was Paul Day, managing director of logistics firm Turners (Soham) Ltd, which operates out of Newmarket and Felixstowe.

Mr Day said: "At the moment retention of people is the most important thing. It's not only drivers, it's warehouse operators, pack house operators and support services.

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"We’ve been massively impacted by a shortage of drivers. They need to be valued and paid appropriately. It's about knowing people and having management present on the ground, all one team."

Mr Day believes the driver shortage has been caused by a number of factors, including the lack of EU drivers, a long period without training and testing, and a surge in activity levels as lockdown was eased.

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Robert Baxter, managing director of Chassis-Cab Ltd, the DAF franchise holder for East Anglia, said demand for servicing, repairs and parts was at a permanent high level.

"With the lack of drivers, it’s even more important that the trucks are on the road as much as possible," he said, adding that recruitment, including finding apprentices had become increasingly difficult across the business.

The concerns follow similar warnings from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce earlier this week which said that haulage and logistics had been particularly impacted by both the pandemic and Brexit. 

Paul Simon from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “We agree with the Government that in the longer-term we must develop our own labour and skills pipelines, wherever possible, as that will make us all economically and socially resilient and better able to compete globally.  But we need to be pragmatic as we recover from the impacts of Covid-19."

Government said this week that up to 50,000 more HGV driving tests will be available each year as legislation is changed to streamline the process.

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