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Haulage Manager Joins Criticism Of Hours Extension

A haulage firm manager has described new temporary rules introduced by the government to extend the permitted hours haulage drivers can spend on the roads as like a “sticking plaster on wet cement”.

Rob Banks, a manager with Chris Ely in Spalding, used the term to criticise the plan to tackle the lack of drivers on the roads and confirmed his firm would not be increasing hours, Spalding Today reports.

He added: “Lorry drivers are already doing more hours a week then the average factory or shop worker and we are asking them to do that in control of a 44 tonne killing machine.”

He has been joined by other haulage equipment users in the area, which has been hit hard by the impact of Brexit on driver numbers.

Chief executive of Fowler Welch John Kerrigan suggested easing restrictions on immigration rules for qualified HGV drivers from overseas, while managing director of Phoenix Drivers Graham Brown said the new rules would do little to clear the backlog of goods transportation.

The comments follow a wider backlash from the haulage sector when the plans were first announced last week, with widespread criticism both for the effect on drivers, and the level of benefits the move would offer.

One haulage company is seeking to tackle the issue by ramping up training of UK drivers to close the gap in staffing levels.

Woodland Group, which is based in Chelmsford, said the shortage is down to a range of factors, including Covid, Brexit, a bottleneck of tests for new HGV drivers and new rules on IR35 qualifications reducing the supply of agency staff.

The firm’s website stated: “We continue to grow our own driver training to DCPC standards, restructure driver opportunities and run national recruitment campaigns to deliver our clients’ supply chains safely and on time.”

It also added its voice to criticism of the driver hours extension plans, warning of more accidents and greater driver fatigue.

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