Council chiefs’ assurances over Derbyshire gritter driver shortage fears

Derbyshire council chiefs have issued reassurances following concerns about a potential shortage of drivers for gritters and snow ploughs this winter.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 11:28 am
Updated Thursday, 30th September 2021, 12:09 pm

Drivers for these vehicles require HGV licenses and additional qualifications. The restrictions to these training courses during lockdown are part of the reason the UK is experiencing issues with HGV driver numbers.

Other reasons include Brexit – with European drivers returning home – Covid illness and low pay.

The assurances come as an HGV driver shortage – in both trained staff and staff willing to work for low pay – has caused delays and shortfalls in various products to the UK.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council, was more brief, saying: “We have enough drivers for gritting/snow ploughing this winter.”

The authority was asked about its reliance on farmers in previous years to help clear roads – and be paid by the council for carrying out the public service.

In response, the spokesperson said: “We have a network of farmers and contractors in place to help with clearing rural roads in the case of heavy snow, and have had this in place for many years, so nothing to do with any shortage of drivers.

“It is just an extra resource for us to call on if we ever need them. In heavy snow our gritters will prioritise the main roads.”

The assurances from our councils comes as an HGV driver shortage – in both trained staff and staff willing to work for low pay – has caused delays and shortfalls in various products to the UK.

There have been fears this could be exacerbated by fuel shortages caused by panic buying.

Derbyshire’s Local Resilience Forum, a combination of all of the county’s emergency services, councils and NHS organisations, said that they are fully prepared with stocks of fuel to keep these services going.

The organisations say they all have contingency plans in place which can be used should the current situation continue.

Cllr Barry Lewis, county council leader, said: “All of Derbyshire’s public services, including the county council, have plans in place for situations that might cause disruption to the services the communities of Derbyshire require.

“Whilst these plans are not required currently, they will be enacted if needed and all of our organisations will work together to address any issues.”

The forum also gave the following message: “People are encouraged not to buy fuel sooner than is needed, and not to collect fuel in unsuitable containers or store fuel at home because of the safety risk.”