Responding to the latest ONS figures on HGV driver vacancies, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Transport Sarah Olney MP said: "These figures reveal the chronic shortage of HGV drivers that is stifling our economy, and the government's utter failure to address it. "We are seeing supermarket shelves going empty and shops warning of shortages of toys at Christmas. "But still Conservative ministers are refusing to drop their damaging rules which make it hard to recruit HGV drivers from abroad. "Handing out temporary visas for a few months is not going to solve this issue. If Boris Johnson really wants to save Christmas, he should allow businesses to permanently recruit the skilled staff from abroad that they need."
Responding to Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden's comments this morning on HGV drivers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: “It is staggering that just 20 fuel tanker drivers from abroad who applied to work here are now on UK roads. “In the face of a national crisis and our ports going into gridlock, the response from Conservative ministers is too little too late. This incompetence will mean more empty shelves and more misery for British consumers in the run-up to Christmas. “The immigration system is broken, and it is hurting everyone. The government needs to end their arbitrary rules that shut out lorry drivers as ‘unskilled’ and take visa applications away from the Home Office to get them decided quickly and fairly.”
Reacting to suggestions made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that fuel shortages are a crisis "manufactured" by the public and "one of the road haulage associations", Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, Trade and Transport Sarah Olney MP said: “Grant Shapps is shamefully passing the buck for the Government’s own failures. “The Conservatives have repeatedly ignored calls from businesses to address the shortage of drivers. It is a bit rich for ministers to now blame the public and the road haulage industry for the mess we find ourselves in. “The Transport Secretary should focus on getting a grip of this crisis instead of trying to duck responsibility.”
Reacting to the news that BP has closed some of its petrol stations due to a shortage of lorry drivers, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business Sarah Olney MP said: “The Conservatives are asleep at the wheel as labour shortages grind people’s lives to a halt. “Allowing a fuel shortage due to a lack of drivers is unprecedented and poses a huge risk, not just for businesses but for everyone relying on a car to go to work or take their kids to school. “The Government must treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves. They need to abandon their anti-immigration ideology that brands key workers as ‘unskilled,' and scrap their arbitrary salary thresholds to get more drivers back in the UK.”
At the full September meeting of Oldham Council Liberal Democrat Councillors Derek Heffernan and Garth Harkness proposed and seconded a Motion asking for action to tackle the traffic chaos caused by HGVs using inappropriate roads in the Borough’s smaller villages and rural areas. Both Councillors witnessed this earlier this year when on April 26 in their own ward of Saddleworth North a large articulated lorry blocked the junction of Grains Road and King Street in Delph for four hours. Commenting, Councillor Heffernan said: “Garth and I saw then the chaos that a HGV driver can cause in a village when trying to navigate a tight road junction in a small village. These situations usually occur when drivers ignore displayed weight or width restrictions or use satnavs designed for cars instead…