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Welsh MP calls on Tories to ‘put immigration clampdown ideology to one side’ to fix fuel crisis

24 Sep 2021 4 minutes Read
Drivers queuing for petrol and diesel in Dolgellau.

A Welsh MP has called on the Conservatives to “put their immigration clampdown ideology to one side” to fix the shortage of petrol and diesel available at garages.

HGV drivers should be added to the UK Government’s Shortage Occupations List, allowing them to be hired faster from abroad, so that food and fuel could be delivered quicker, Hywel Williams said.

The Arfon made the comments as BP and Esso announced on Thursday that a number of petrol stations were closed due to a shortage of HGV drivers.

This followed warnings on Tuesday by Ian Wright, the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, who said consumers could start noticing shortages in poultry, pork and bakery products in the coming days.

A Caerphilly-based medical supply company also warned on Wednesday that a shortage of lorry drivers could hit NHS care for patients.

Hywel Williams said that the supply crisis was reaching “breaking point” but that “Tories in Westminster are still burying their heads in the sand”.

“This is a market failure caused by Westminster. A combination of a decision to impose a restrictive immigration policy after leaving the EU, a critical lack of forward planning by Government and awful working conditions for drivers has created a perfect storm of the UK Government’s own making,” the Plaid Cymru MP said.

“To use the Tories’ own language – it is now time they take back control of this crisis by using the flexibilities provided by the Shortage Occupations List mechanism.

“If they want to avoid engulfing working people in a spiralling crisis this winter, the UK Government must put their immigration clampdown ideology to one side and make it easier for firms to hire HGV drivers from abroad.”

‘Kick start’

The UK’s Transport Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that Brexit was not part of the problem for recruiting HGV drivers in the UK, instead arguing that being divorced from the European Union had helped enable some of the solutions.

However, the Road Haulage Association estimates that 15,000 EU lorry drivers returned to their home countries during the pandemic, and were unable to return following the introduction of strict immigration rules after the end of the transition period on 31 January 2021.

Overall, the RHA estimates that the UK is short of around 100,000 HGV drivers.
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Technology and Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, said that the Labour Welsh Government should kick start HGV training for 18–25-year-olds in Wale to help solve the crisis.

With many young people being impacted by the pandemic, the Welsh Government should support those who are willing to have a career in transport by covering the cost of the course which can run up to £2,000 per person, she said.

The call follows changes by the British Government which will see learner lorry drivers being able to take their test in a large articulated lorry, without having to do a prior test in a large rigid lorry.

“This isn’t going to fix the problem overnight but for many young people who are looking at the increasing benefits of becoming a lorry driver but don’t have the funds to start the training, this could kick start their future in the industry,” Natasha Asghar MS said.

“Having had in depth discussions with members of the Road Haulage Association, the Welsh Government should also look at what further support they can give to improving the conditions for lorry drivers on Welsh roads, ensuring that basic services such as toilets are available throughout the night and not just during the day.”

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hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago

Oh boy, the government are now advocating taking short cuts to complete HGV driver training by skipping rigid and going straight to articulated. Only a non driver or someone used being carted around in a chauffeur driven exec car could think like that. As for the effect of Brexit, well the main Brexit related cause is that the 3 or so years post June 2016 were spent bickering by both the Remainers and the pro Brexit mobs in politics. I suspect that no one in government and not many in business had the brains to think through the various problems… Read more »

Mark
Mark
28 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

and reversing won’t be part of the test, it will be done else where, by a third party?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

If you are refering Labour’s limited scope or plan post-Brexit, whose leader Corbin sat on the fence regarding promoting to the public the positives of staying in the EU, I’d agree with your postmortem. But what I do disagree with, is tarring all Remainers with the same Brexit brush. I know Plaid & SNP pressed hard the positives , as did the Liberals, but sadly the Red Top Tory supporting Murdoch media. The Donald Trump factor. Plus all the falsehoods & misinformation, meant even after years of political & public debate, most were none the wiser, not to mention all… Read more »

hdavies15
hdavies15
28 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

I was referring to the period 2016 to 2019 not the pre June 2016 campaigning which was a tissue of fabrication and exaggeration on both sides. Reflect on that campaigning and we can see how the 3 years that followed got wasted. People more concerned with abusing each other rather paying attention to the constructive use of resources particularly time. That led to the situation in mid to late 2019 where the UK government had no idea what lay in front of it and thus no idea how to work their way through it. As I said before, UK was… Read more »

Mark
Mark
28 days ago

isn’t taking on cheaper foreign drivers how we ended up here in the first place, rather than improving pay and conditions?

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark

The irony, he says. Thought our Brexiteers would have forecast this issue rather than blindly leaping into the darkness hoping to land like a cat on their feet. Only difference is. A Cat’s got nine lives, where we, one. This also reminds me when our National Health systems were run directlyb from Westminster in the bad old days, where both Tories & Labour failed to on train enough Nurses & Doctors, so opted to asset strip South/East Asian countries. Yes, an easy fix but costly to others as it took vital expertise away from poorer countries who could I’ll afford… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Y Cymro
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
28 days ago

We have the ironic situation where we have Welsh Conservative Moaning Minnie Natasha Asghar whining at the Welsh Government response to the Road Haulage driver crisis which was not of their making but caused by Brexit she and her party supported & voted for. Conservative idocracy personified. What did most Brexiteers say when challenged about the risks. And I quote: “Don’t tell me that I didn’t know what I voted for!”. Hollow words seeing the shelves are empty and our petrol stations are blocked by panic buying. Just think. We’ve got over three years more of this Conservative calamity until… Read more »

Last edited 28 days ago by Y Cymro
Quornby
Quornby
28 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

God in the absence of London politicians with a brain cell give us Indy ASAP.

Geraint
Geraint
27 days ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

Tory MS suddenly asking for state intervention instead of markets sorting things out ‘naturally’! Has she forgotten she is a Tory? Or are the Tories reinventing a Heath and Barber era? What next, massive inflation?

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
28 days ago

They probably will, not because it is the right thing to do but because they fear it will lose them votes if they don’t. That’s the one thing that will trump their warped ideology – the fear of losing control of Westminster in the long run.

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