Like many parts of the UK, the districts are facing a shortage of HGV drivers for their bin crews due to a number of factors. These include fewer newly qualified drivers because driving tests have been restricted due to Covid-19; HGV drivers have also been switching jobs to fill an increasing number of online delivery roles available; and because of travel restrictions, fewer drivers are coming from overseas to look for work.
This is currently affecting a number of rounds in the districts where residents’ waste collections have been disrupted, and so the councils’ contractor is on a proactive recruitment drive to prevent it becoming a wider problem.
The councils’ waste contractor, Biffa, is currently managing the situation by providing staff the opportunity to work Saturdays and Sundays as overtime to catch up with missed collections, but this is not sustainable in the long term either financially or for the bin crews’ wellbeing. It also inconvenient for residents.
Cllr David Rouane South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and the environment said: “The past year has been tough on our waste collection crews, and they’re having to work extra hard at the moment due to the national shortage of HGV drivers. Over the past year, they’ve already had to contend with staff shortages due to the pandemic, and an increased workload with more people working from home and so many of us generating extra online delivery packaging.
“Please do be patient with them on the rare occasion they’re not able to get to you on your collection day and do please spread the word that we need HGV drivers to come forward and apply.”
Cllr Catherine Webber Vale of White Horse cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Environment said: “There have been a number of factors that have contributed to this shortage including travel restrictions for foreign workers due to Covid-19 and Brexit. In addition, drivers have switched to other work. It also cannot be ignored that Oxfordshire is an expensive place to live and this may have deterred some people from moving to our area for work.
“We would kindly request our residents are patient with our bin crews who are currently working extra hard having already had a difficult year. It also offers an opportunity for us all to reduce our waste where possible, which will help everyone in the long term.”
Contact details for people wishing to apply to Biffa
Notes to editors
A recent report found a combination of events has led to this shortage of drivers across the whole of the UK: