'Appalling' lack of rest stops - lorry drivers hit out over cafe closure

Gary Brown and his partner Mike outside of the Dock Stop Cafe in Felixstowe

Gary Brown and his partner Mike outside the Dock Stop Cafe in Felixstowe, which will be closing on Christmas Eve - Credit: Dock Stop Cafe

Lorry drivers and hauliers using Felixstowe port have told of their dismay at the lack of places to take a break.

They have hit out following news that the Dock Stop Cafe, behind the BP station in Anzani Avenue, will be closing down on Christmas Eve, due to the landlords' plans to redevelop the site.

The loss of the cafe, run by Gary Brown and his partner Mike, is just the latest blow to lorry drivers.

It comes after the permanent closure earlier this year of the Orwell Truckstop at Nacton, which was one of the A14's only truck stops near Ipswich.

Mr Brown said they had been getting a lot of reaction from their regular customers.

"All the drivers who come in here are up in arms about it, because there's nowhere else in Felixstowe they can go.

"They need somewhere they can have a stop and get out of their lorries. Their cab is their office and they don't want to eat there."

Lorry driver Richard Allday, secretary of the Suffolk road haulage branch of Unite

Lorry driver Richard Allday, secretary of the Suffolk road haulage branch of Unite - Credit: Richard Allday

Lorry driver Richard Allday, secretary of the Suffolk road haulage branch of Unite, said: "I am shocked that the cafe is closing.

"You have now got a long drive to Bury St Edmunds for a break in one direction, or to Chelmsford, which doesn't have catering facilities.

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"We are being reduced to a diet of fast food - and they wonder why it's hard to recruit drivers."

He said the closure of facilities for truckers was definitely making the driver shortage worse, adding: "Hauliers recognise that the working conditions and rest stops are appalling."

The Orwell Crossing truck stop which is being closed in order to be redeveloped as a logistics park

The former Orwell Truckstop at Nacton, which closed earlier this year - Credit: ARCHANT

Caron Craft, transport manager at Penta GB, based in Felixstowe, said: "It's just another kick in the teeth for those drivers that need these pit stops.

"There's no parking, which impacts on drivers' hours, as when they have time to run most places are no longer there that are safe and secure." She added this impacted drivers' earnings as well as their hours.

Lorry driver Dennis Anderson said he was concerned at the loss of facilities.

"I'm based in Ipswich and I can take a break in my yard, but there's a lot of people who can't," he said. 

"Sometimes you need to take a break, and where can you get a drink or food?"