Hauliers in the east say 'long-term solution' needed to fix driver shortage

  • Watch a report by ITV Anglia's Rob Setchell

Almost a week after it was first revealed that there were supply issues at some BP stations, filling up in the east is still not quite as straightforward as it was last Wednesday.

There remain some queues and limits on who can fill up, but that is alongside cautious signs that normality could soon be returning to the forecourt.

At the brunt of the supply issues have been hauliers trying to get the fuel to the stations.

They have told ITV Anglia that the supply chains have been hit by a perfect storm: Brexit, Covid and working conditions leading to a massive shortfall in drivers.

The Government launched three-month visas to try to temporarily plug the gap with foreign workers and there is even talk of army drivers being used to deliver fuel.

But what the industry wants is a long-term solution and that means recruiting and training more delivery drivers.

Carl Bell, who is training to be a lorry driver Credit: ITV Anglia

Carl Bell, 26, has got his test tomorrow. He's excited to drive the 40-tonne trucks and tankers and has not been put off by the long, hard days.

"I think every job has its pros and cons. There are improvements you could have in every sector. I wouldn't say that bothers me because the wages are going up - and it's obviously a career you can do for life," he said.

Carl's instructor is Frank Andrews, a 40 year old truck driving veteran. Next week, he'll be back behind the wheel of a tanker full of diesel.

He fears we will see more shortages and empty shelves unless the driver drought is remedied.

East Coast Driver Training want better working conditions for those entering the industry Credit: ITV Anglia

Driving instructor Phil Holmes, from East Coast Driver Training, thinks it will take more than the temporary visa to sort the situation out. He wants to see improvements to working conditions and proper truck stops.

"A lot of companies went down the Eastern European route and took drivers - economic migrants from the European Union. Since Brexit, they've left, which they can do. That's left a massive gulf, a shortfall in the workforce," he said.

"You can say 'yeah, we'll throw more money at it. We'll increase the wages.' That's a good thing but it's short term. Once the driver has been behind the wheel, done a winter out on the road, he's gonna go 'no I'll go and do something else'."