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Lorry driver shortage causes bin chaos: EIGHTEEN councils confirm delays to rubbish

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At least 18 municipalities in the UK are experiencing continued disruptions to their refuse collection services due to a shortage of drivers.

The delays mainly affect the collection of garden waste, according to the BBC.

But some municipalities are also delaying recycling collection so that they can provide enough drivers to pick up Britain’s general waste.

The delays are partly caused by the lack of truck drivers and the fact that many council workers go into self-isolation after either contracting the coronavirus or coming into contact with someone with the disease.

Britain is currently facing its own 100,000 truck driver shortage, which shop owners partly blame for changes in migration rules after Brexit and EU workers returning home.

The Road Haulage Association said the total number of people in the UK with a lorry license this summer is 516,000. But the latest data from the Ministry of Transport shows that in 2020 there were 278,700 truck drivers employed, equivalent to 54 percent of the total.

At least 18 municipalities in the UK are experiencing continued disruptions to their refuse collection services due to driver shortages

On Thursday, three municipalities in Devon wrote a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel asking the government to grant temporary visas to European truck drivers in order to reduce the shortage.

The municipalities that suffer from a lack of drivers

Derby City Council

Manchester City Council

Milton Keynes Council

South Gloucestershire Council

District of South Holland

North Norfolk District Council

Cambridge County Council

South Cambridgeshire County Council

Rossendale Borough Council

Peterborough City Council

Torbay Council

Teignbridge District Council

Council of North Devon

City Council of Stoke on Trent

South Ribble Council

Council of Dartford

Dundee City Council

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

North Devon Council is seeking to fill seven truck driver vacancies, Torbay Council has eight vacancies and Teignbridge Council needs ten drivers, the councilors said in their letter.

Steve Darling, David Worden and Alistair Dewhirst added that filling the vacancies proved ‘very challenging’.

The councilors asked to have driver applications handled by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Department (DVLA to be ‘fast tracked’).

They said there are five applications in Teignbridge that can be accelerated.

Waste management companies, including Biffa and Veolia, told the BBC they are ‘doing everything they can’ to address the shortage.

Other councils facing shortages are the councils in Derby and Manchester, along with others in Milton Keynes and Basingstoke.

The shortage of drivers also affects the food industry. Earlier this week, Coca-Cola said a shortage of cans was exacerbated by a shortage of truck drivers.

And pub chain Wetherspoon’s said it was struggling with a beer shortage. Fast food chains McDonald’s, KFC and Nando’s have all faced similar supply chain issues in recent months.

The latter company had to close about a tenth of its branches due to a chicken shortage, partly caused by a lack of drivers.

Britain has about 237,300 qualified drivers who are not yet on the road, despite the shortage of 100,000 workers.

Industry experts have said it takes better wages and working conditions to lure them back.

They largely blame the shortage on Brexit and the pandemic, which left 14,000 European drivers home and only 600 of them returned.

The delays mainly affect the collection of garden waste.  But some councils are also delaying recycling collection so they can provide enough drivers to pick up Britain's general waste

The delays mainly affect the collection of garden waste. But some councils are also delaying recycling collection so they can provide enough drivers to pick up Britain’s general waste

Since last year, the sector has also seen large numbers of drivers retire, while the training of new drivers has been hit by lockdown, with 40,000 truck driver tests cancelled.

The average age of a truck driver in the UK is estimated at 56-57 years and not enough young people have entered the sector due to long working hours, unattractive conditions and poor wages.

Average hourly wages for drivers have risen 10 per cent to £11.80 since 2015 – below the average of 16 per cent in other sectors, with new tax changes not in their favour either.

Truck drivers are only allowed to drive for nine hours a day, but many are away from home for up to 15 hours a day, which puts off many young people who don’t want such hours.

A lorry driver drives his vehicle along the M4 motorway near Datchet, Berkshire, on July 8

A lorry driver drives his vehicle along the M4 motorway near Datchet, Berkshire, on July 8

Britain is just one of many European countries facing a driver shortage.

There are an estimated 400,000 job vacancies across the continent.

Research by logistics analysts Transport Intelligence found that Germany was missing between 45,000 and 60,000 truck drivers last year.

That number is increasing, with the International Road Transport Union warning of a deficit of 185,000 there by 2027.

France has also faced a similar crisis, with the country struggling with a shortage of around 43,000 drivers since 2019.

Italy’s 2019 deficit was estimated to be around 15,000, Transport Intelligence said.

Jose Gomez-Urquiza, chief executive of immigration agency Visa Solutions, told The Daily Express: “We are experiencing by far the worst driver shortage we have seen in recent history.”

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