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Solent hauliers get together in bid to tackle driver shortage

A second meeting of hauliers in the Solent region, who are hoping to create their own local solution to tackle the problem of driver shortages, took place on 24 February.

Hosted by Southampton-based Williams Shipping at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, the meeting reunited the delegates that attended an inaugural get together in November 2013. This featured 11 of the region’s logistics companies and was hosted by Meachers Global Logistics, with chairing duties handled by Commercial Motor group news editor Chris Druce. It came in response to a dearth of new drivers joining the industry, and the collective will of delegates to tackle the issue at a local level.

Defero Communications director Grant Woodall, who is acting as spokesman for the group, told CM that the delegates at the latest meeting were briefed that funding from Southampton City Council is available via several mechanisms, but it will need to be match-funded (if not on a pound-for-pound basis). Funding routes available include the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and City Deals (via the Local Enterprise Partnership).

The alliance has set up a working group consisting of Defero and transport consultant Clive Squire to provide more details and costings on the potential initiatives/options. At present, a driver training school supported by members remains a favoured option. The project group will also assess the potential for alliance members to launch a joint campaign to promote a career within haulage in the region. It will report back in a few months, at which time the members will reconvene to decide their next move.

Jonathan Williams, director of Williams Shipping, said: “The driver recruitment issue is one that effects the industry on a national and regional level. We are keen to support this initiative and work with other regional hauliers, local government and education to work towards a positive outcome.”

Clive Watkins, MD of Lambert Brothers Haulage, another alliance member, said: “Encouraging new drivers into the industry is vital to its future. We need to be smarter about how we attract new talent. It will be interesting to see how this project develops and if it can be used as a blueprint for other regions.”

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