Autumn Statement: The RHA's Asks for Facilities
By Ashton Cull - RHA Public Affairs Manager
Despite being essential to the functioning of our economy and society, HGV and coach drivers often find themselves out in the cold.
All across the country, you will see trucks and lorries parked up in laybys and side roads – without washing or toilet facilities, without anywhere to eat, and without any security to guard them or their cargo.
At the RHA, we’ve identified facilities – or the lack thereof – as one of our six key campaign priorities. Nationally, we estimate we’re short by 11,000 lorry parking spaces – to be clear, that’s parking alone before we even consider what is needed to make legally-required rest stops in any way comfortable.
The significant and increasing levels of freight crime are a clear demonstration why action needs to be taken in this area. In 2022, there were over 5000 reported HGV, Freight, and Cargo crimes, with the value of goods stolen topping £68m. These range from threats and attacks on drivers (with 20% of registered HGV drivers having experienced this) to theft of fuel, vehicles and trailer loads. Drivers are often working alone, working long shifts, travelling for several hours far from home and late at night; they are targeted by organised criminals with industry knowledge who know where vehicles stop, what security is operating and when high value goods are on the move.
When the fear of crime while on the road is this high, drivers will struggle to get good quality rest they need to operate their vehicles safely. This is compounded by the lack and poor quality of facilities for them to use whilst working, which around 2/3 of current drivers say is not good enough. These poor working conditions are a significant barrier to recruitment and retention of new drivers, and with the average age of HGV drivers currently 51 years old, it is imperative we take action to bring new drivers into the industry and keep them here.
Our facilities campaign is focused on fixing this; we need a strong network of secure parking and rest stop with proper driver facilities, and while the private sector needs to deliver the sites, there is action Government can take to help us get there.
First, we need the Government to complete its proposed reforms to the planning system, to help local government understand the importance of truck parking to the national economy, and address some of the myths that surround new facilities that can generate vociferous local opposition. Part of this includes delivering on the promised National Freight Network outlined in the Future of Freight Strategy.
Secondly, while Government has allocated £52.5m to help improve existing facilities, allowing funding to be extended to new facilities across the SRN will help bring forward new sites that cannot cover the initial investment to get off the ground.
Finally, we need a ministerial taskforce that can bring together government and industry to identify both areas where lorry parking is deficient and opportunities for new sites that can be brought forward. This should be increasingly important in areas where Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects are in the pipeline. The convening power of central government can then get the planning authorities and the parking providers in the same room and finally help get more truck stops built.
We all value the deliveries our HGV drivers make, it’s time to show our support to the men and women making those deliveries.