The West of England Combined Authority, led by Metro Mayor Dan Norris, has allocated funding for training lorry drivers to help address the national shortage that has caused empty supermarket shelves and queues at the pumps.
The Metro Mayor got behind the wheel of an HGV at haulage firm Massey Wilcox which has its head office in Radstock.
The family-owned firm welcomed the Metro Mayor to their Avonmouth depot where he met representatives of the Road Haulage Association, to discuss the challenges facing their sector. This includes the recruitment of new drivers and a lack of safe and secure parking spaces for existing drivers.
Mr Norris explained how the West of England Combined Authority is aiming to tackle the driver shortage as part of a £5m funding package of regional recovery measures announced in January. He said: “This is a career that will really appeal to some people but life on the road can be tough and it is vital drivers get access to loos, decent facilities to wash and eat and trade union recognition.
"How products get from A to B isn't something most people think about very often. That's until there are empty shelves. With Brexit, Government incompetence, an ageing workforce, and not enough done to improve conditions for drivers - we've all been feeling the consequences.
"The shortage of drivers is putting pressure on supply chains, and driving up prices, adding to cost of living crisis for local people. I am pleased that the West of England Combined Authority, which I lead, has reacted flexibly, and is taking immediate action to help fix this problem”.
Speaking about the visit, Managing Director of Massey Wilcox Robert Wilcox said: “I am pleased that the West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris is able to spare us the time to explain the dilemma the industry has in recruiting new blood. With an aging workforce, it’s time to make the necessary changes in our part of the world to attract new people into our industry”.