Wild winter weather is forecast this weekend.
After an exceptionally mild Autumn, it could prove a real shock to the system.
With hard frosts, snow sleet, rain and high winds on the cards, you’d expect the gritters to be out.However, motorists may face even more dangerous conditions than usual councils have warned.

Local authorities admit they are struggling to retain lorry drivers amid the general shortages. It’s become a competitive market place for attracting HGV drivers, and private companies have been rising wage offers and bonuses. This has already disrupted refuse collections across several areas, and now it could also affect gritters when the harsher conditions prevail.

Drivers risk facing extremely hazardous snowy and icy conditions on the roads when the mercury levels drop.

Coordinated support

Councils have been calling on Government to work with them. They believe their needs to be more help to address these staffing issues. Without appropriate coordination, it will be difficult to ensure people ‘can continue to receive the services they rely upon’.

This follows the much-documented recent fuel-delivery crisis, empty shelves in supermarkets and rubbish piling up on city streets.

David Renard is transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, representing councils in England and Wales. He warns that the public sector is struggling to compete with the driver salaries being offered by private firms. Whilst most councils have been able to keep services running, disruption to gritting services may suffer a similar fate as organisations compete for drivers.

“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.

“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.”

Getting a grip

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams says it could result in more traffic incidents an casualties. “Not being able to grit roads when temperatures drop will be a real safety hazard. This could lead to more crashes and, ultimately, more lives being ruined and lost.

“We’ve already seen reductions in the number of miles of roads being treated with salt over previous winters, so this would be a blow to drivers who rely on their vehicles. Councils must get a grip of this problem so drivers don’t lose grip on the roads this winter.”