Lorry drivers are being told they will benefit from improved and safer rest areas and roadside facilities thanks to up to £100 million investment from the government and industry.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said truck-stop and road service operators can bid for a share of the £32.5 million match-funding pot from the Government, which is in addition to the £20 million match-funding launched earlier this year from National Highways to improve roadside facilities and security for lorry drivers.
Unite, which has been campaigning for better facilities for truckers, said most of the promised funding will not be allocated let alone spent until 2025.
The minister launched the funding at the Red Lion Truckstop in Northamptonshire which aims to improve security measures for drivers, boost welfare facilities like showers, rest areas and restaurants, and increase HGV parking capacity.
He said: “Hauliers and drivers are critical to keep our economy motoring. But for decades, our truckers have had a raw deal when it comes to decent roadside facilities.
“This is why I’m so proud that our Government is going to provide match funding support to the industry to boost drivers’ welfare, safeguard road safety and make sure driving an HGV is a really attractive career option by providing the facilities and respect our lorry drivers deserve.”
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The funding being offered today was first promised a year ago and the government is only planning to match fund £5 million this year.
“Most of the promised funding will not be allocated let alone spent until 2025. Lorry drivers a reporting that facilities are getting worse. The lack of toilets is making drivers ill while others are leaving the industry because of inadequate facilities.
“Drivers can’t hold on for any longer and rather than piece meal amounts of money being handed down by the government there needs to be root and branch reform of how drivers are treated.”
Richard Smith, Road Haulage Association managing director, welcomed the move but called on ministers to reform planning regulations to help tackle the estimated shortage of 11,000 safe and secure lorry parking spaces.
He said: “We’re pleased to see that service station operators can apply for grants to improve facilities for drivers – the standards at many truck stops are poor so it’s right that the Government has shown this commitment.
“But thousands of truckers every night are still left without safe and secure places to park.
“Simplifying planning bureaucracy would help firms develop new sites quicker, which would boost local economies and offer truckers the facilities they deserve.”