Less cargo, less truckers on A14

NUMBERS of trucks on the A14 are down significantly because of the recession - with hauliers having less cargo to carry.

Richard Cornwell

NUMBERS of trucks on the A14 are down significantly because of the recession - with hauliers having less cargo to carry.

With people spending less - either through belt-tightening and fear of the future, or redundancy - shops are suffering, selling less and ordering fewer goods.

Imports through Felixstowe, Britain's biggest container port, are down 16 to 20 per cent, and some haulage firms have gone bust.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the number of HGV drivers out of work is up by 236 per cent, transport managers up by 114pc and van drivers up 60pc.

But one haulage firm in Suffolk said today there was a glimmer of hope with work starting to pick up a little.

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Roy Leggett, of Leggett's Transport at Woolpit, said: “When we see a drop in cargo of the order of 16 to 20pc, we have to reduce our cost base by that figure just to standstill.

“These are very tough times and we are doing all we can to keep our business going forward.

“We started in the 1960s and we saw the drivers' strike of the 1970s, the fuel crisis of the 80s and the mini-recessions of the 90s, but while we knew this one was coming it was so much more violent when it arrived.

“I like to be a little optimistic and business has picked up a little bit since Easter.”

Mr Leggett said his company was diversifying in order to boost business and had opened a county council-approved 24-hour truckstop next to the A14 at Woolpit with overnight facilities, truck wash and maintenance.

The FTA said nationally there had been a marked increase in redundancies in the haulage and logistics sector in the first quarter of 2009.

Chief executive Theo de Pencier said: “According to a poll of our members, almost half have already made redundancies this year, with a further third considering job losses in the second quarter.

“While the economic downturn is undoubtedly a factor, two fuel duty increases in just five months have reduced business resilience and cost people their jobs.”

How is your business doing in the recession? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk