Icy roads may not be gritted this winter due to shortages

Roads could be left covered in dangerous snow and ice this winter due to a shortage of gritter drivers.

Councils admitted that their difficulties retaining and recruiting bin lorry drivers could also affect gritters, which spread salt on roads when temperatures drop below freezing for a prolonged period or when there is heavy snowfall.

Refuse collections have been disrupted across several local authority areas in recent weeks.

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David Renard, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association which represents councils in England and Wales, warned that the public sector is struggling to compete with driver salaries being offered by private firms.

He 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.

“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.

“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.

“Fast-inflating HGV driver salaries in the private sector risks exacerbating issues in the public sector, with the rises potentially creating a retention as well as a recruitment problem for councils and their contractors.

“We want to work with Government to address these short-term staffing issues to ensure people across the country can continue to receive the services they rely upon.”

Dozens of councils across the country have had to cancel, alter and delay rubbish collections because of shortages – and that now looks set to be translated to gritter operations, reports The Sun.

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.”

The Department for Transport said last night: “We expect local authorities to maintain a safe local road network over winter.”

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