Plans to close A14 truck stop slammed amid driver shortage
- Credit: BENTALLGREENOAK
Plans to close one of the A14's only truck stops near Ipswich have been criticised amid an ongoing shortage of lorry drivers.
This month eviction notices were served to the leaseholders at the Orwell Truckstop at Nacton ahead of plans to develop the only truck stop with facilities between Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds into warehousing.
Outline planning permission for the development was granted in 2018, and more detailed plans submitted this year detail how the 60-acre site will be developed to create 1,500 jobs — which is advertised as being available from the second quarter of 2022.
But now the plans have been slammed for making driver's working conditions worse, as the industry seeks to make up a 100,000 driver shortfall.
Currently the truck stop offers parking for around 150 HGVs, as well as offering hot food and shower facilities for drivers.
Richard Allday, a truck driver and secretary of the Suffolk road haulage branch of Unite, said: "The problem with the Orwell truck stop disappearing is there will be nowhere safe and secure within an hour's drive of Felixstowe port for drivers who may have been living in the cab all week and may be coming towards the end of a 15-hour shift to stop.
"Without it they won't be able to get a hot meal. They won't be able to have a shower, or even wash their hands and face.
"When people complain about the unsanitary habits of lorry drivers it's almost always because they literally do not have any other place to dispose of their bodily functions."
Mr Allday said the impact of the closure would not just be felt by the haulage community.
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"If the lorry drivers can't park at Orwell Truckstop where are they all going to park?" he said. "This is going to come back and bite the local community on the bottom."
A spokesman for the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said they welcomed the jobs the development would bring, but not the truck stop's closure.
"Drivers deserve safe and secure parking facilities when they’re out on the road – yet there are not enough of them," he said.
"Closing facilities leaves drivers with even less choice, and they often end up parking in laybys and industrial estates when their driving hours are up.
"Poor facilities make it harder to attract new talent into the industry and there’s no worse time for it than now as we’re in a driver shortage crisis – at least 100,000."
A spokesman for developer Equation Properties said: "Each unit within the proposed Orwell Logistics Park will have its own dedicated parking and facilities. These will be managed and maintained by the occupiers of each unit.
"The occupiers will then have their own parking policy and strategy to support their drivers’ wellbeing, such as parking, and comfort facilities.”