A shortage of skilled drivers is now the ‘biggest concern’ in winter service for UK authorities, according to a senior figure in the sector.
Chair of the National Winter Service Research Group (NWSRG), and principal maintenance engineer at Lincolnshire County Council, David Davies, told Transport Network that a lack of trained large goods vehicle drivers had overtaken salt supplies as the number one issue.
‘I think the biggest concern for all highways authorities I have spoken to is a lack of drivers. There is a serious shortage of large goods vehicle drivers in the UK. There are fewer operatives in the construction industry and fewer drivers,’ he said.
‘Most authorities have salt but are struggling for drivers. We are aware of the issues and are investigating options, such as training programmes, but it is a national problem across sectors. Drivers' hours regulations have exacerbated the problem.’
He also said that work was being done by industry to support the growing interest in liquid winter service treatments.
Mr Davies said: ‘I think liquids are potentially going to be very useful in the future but the old problems over the logistics around the production and carrying of liquids are still there. Manufacturers are trying to help with that through looking at production facilities.’
He added there was a push from various authorities in the Midlands to collaborate further with Highways England on the use of salt barns.
‘Some of the Midland Service Improvement Group (MSIG) authorities are trying to look at depots and share them wherever possible, even with Highways England. That process is still developing but it could lead to best practice.
‘The biggest issue over depots is the planning permission needed for any new depot. To get a new depot put in place is very time consuming and can take a few years - there are a lot of planning issues.’
Surveyor’s 25th Annual Winter Maintenance Conference, Cold Comfort 2016, takes place on 18th - 19th May at Manchester Central, Manchester, UK. To register click here: