Warning over icy roads this winter across Britain ‘due to lack of gritter drivers’

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The UK’s roads could be left with icy conditions through the winter as councils face a shortage of gritter drivers.

Heightened by the pandemic and Brexit, the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers has been blamed for the recent fuel shortage and short supply of food on shelves in supermarkets.

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The driver shortage could now affect the country as we head into the winter months, with  salt-spreading services set to be hit, The Sun reports.

The estimated shortfall of drivers in the UK stands at 100,000, with vacancies still not being filled fast enough.

Councils working to plan ahead

Councils use contacted staff or bin lorry drivers to run salt-spreading vehicles during the winter, and now theLGA warns some authorities “may find that their gritting services are affected”.

Cllr David Renard, transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), said: ‘While most councils have been able to keep services running, some may find that their gritting services are affected in the same way that some have seen waste collection services impacted.

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‘As they do every year, councils will be working proactively to plan ahead and ensure that their winter services are as resilient as they can be.’

Cllr Richard added that the lure of increased wages in the private sector will only make the situation worse - with councils unable to match their pay.

“Councils are keen to work with Government and partners to support more training for these demand sectors, however this is a lengthy process and does not alleviate the short term pressures on frontline services,” he added.

HGV drivers can typically earn between £28,000 to £32,500 a year, but some supermarket delivery drivers are now being offered up to £70,000.

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‘We’re facing a perfect storm’

Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Jim McMahon said: "We are facing a perfect storm of empty shelves, dry forecourts and services not delivered thanks to the Conservatives’ failure to plan for or even acknowledge the scale of this crisis.

"These issues aren’t going to disappear, no matter how much the Prime Minister tries to ignore them or blame others.

"Until the Government gets a grip, ordinary people will continue to pay the price for the major labour and skills shortages that will make an already critical situation worse."

Downing Street has acknowledged the first fully-trained HGV drivers will not be ‘road ready’ until February.

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Fresh fears for festive shortages arrived as one in six adults say they’ve been unable to buy essential food items in the last fortnight.

A version of this article originally appeared on NationalWorld.com