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Driving up standards – the pressing need for better roadside facilities

While investment in the road network tends to sit near the top of the transport industry’s agenda, the related issue of providing decent facilities for the nation’s army of HGV drivers tends to receive less attention.

To help redress the balance, Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for transport users, held a special event last week (26 January 2023), dedicated to the issue of driver facilities on the strategic road network (SRN), the 4,500 miles of motorways and major ‘A’ roads at the core of England’s national transport system.


The keynote speech was delivered by Roads Minister Richard Holden MP (pictured above left), who was interviewed on this issue by Logistics Magazine in December 2022.

Speaking at The Hollies truck stop in Cannock, north of Birmingham, the minister said: “Services like this offer every lorry driver the fantastic facilities they need to recuperate and refuel, and the clean, comfortable and safe environment that they all deserve.”

Whether drivers need to stop for a short time, for diesel or coffee, or for a longer overnight stay, Holden argued that truck stops must offer a good deal and a safe place for drivers.

“I believe that we can really raise the standard across the board, because let’s be honest, it’s not been high enough,” he said, “I doubt anyone would throw scorn on that ambition.”

The minister expressed the hope that the industry will soon see an end to the sub-standard services that it had lived with for too long.

“There’s a long and complex way of saying something rather simple, really, that money is on the table here,” Holden said, “Money has been prised from the hands of the Treasury to try and deliver this.”

Holden promoted the £100m funding pot announced in November 2022, that the government and industry had set aside to fund improved and safer rest areas and roadside facilities.

The money will help fund better security, showers and eating facilities, as well as ensuring that the capacity of truck stops across the country is sufficient to meet demand.

“This week I’ve written to all the [truck stop] operators along the strategic road network to remind them of the opportunities that are available and to apply by the 24 February,” he said, “Please make sure that you do because I would much rather go back to the Treasury and say we could do with some more money, instead of say we didn’t quite spend it all.”


Following the minister’s speech, David Wells, Chief Executive of Logistics UK (pictured above right), underlined the need for drastic improvement in the provision of roadside facilities for drivers.

“The reality is we’ve got a bit of momentum going here,” he said, “But what we need to do is to translate this sentiment into real activity and real decisions and real change, particularly around the planning issues.”

While the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that workers must have access to clean and secure bathrooms and, where necessary, showers and changing facilities, this is still far from the standard provision offered to HGV drivers, the business group chief argued.

“More than 1,400 drivers are unable to find a safe and secure place to take their mandated overnight rest,” he said, “More needs to be done to support them while undertaking their vital work.”

On the longstanding recruitment issue facing the industry, Wells argued that it could largely be attributed to the poor image of the industry and the way outsiders view the way it treats its staff.

“If a worker is forced to park up on the side of the road, or in an industrial park, what does that say about the sector?” he asked. “It certainly isn’t very appealing if you are looking for a job.”

On the issue of planning, Wells argued that the government needs to encourage planning authorities to implement existing guidelines for providing adequate lorry driving facilities. National infrastructure projects and route network upgrades must have a requirement for lorry parking facilities, he said, because truck stop tenant-operators needed certainty and longevity on leases on public land.

“I want to thank Transport Focus for continuing to shine a light on the appalling provision of rest and service areas for our industry across the strategic road network,” Wells concluded, “We look forward to working with you and with them to raise awareness of the problem and identify real solutions that we can implement for a problem that has gone on for far too long.”


Published On: 02/02/2023 16:00:23


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