I chaired a round table on 2 November 2016 about roadside facilities and parking for lorry drivers. This followed an adjournment debate, secured by Helen Whately, the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent, on 7 September about fly-parking in Kent.
Key issues identified at the round table, which could be considered in the Kent context and which will have wider applicability and interest, are:
- the join up between national and local planning frameworks
- provision of lorry parking facilities
- minimum standards at such parking facilities
- payment systems for facilities
- when facilities are supplied ensuring there is enforcement against lorries stopping in the wrong place (including achieving that without a proliferation of signs and lines)
In due course I will set out actions to tackle each and all of these.
Some of these issues as they relate to Kent, in particular, were discussed at a meeting of the Kent Strategic Freight Group on 2 December, chaired by the County Council. I am urgently considering how they can be progressed, including how enforcement against fly-parking can be made to work better.
A contract awarded last week for an extensive national survey of lorry parking to be completed by the spring will add to the evidence about what should be done where.
Work is also underway to encourage private sector distribution centres to allow drivers to have access to decent facilities when supplying them.
I chaired another round table on 17 November about recruitment into the logistics sector. Better lorry parking and facilities can contribute to improving the recruitment and retention of drivers. However it is one of many issues where government working with the private sector can contribute.
Already waiting times for lorry driving tests have been reduced substantially at a time of increasing demand for tests, through the recruitment of more examiners. Processes for licence renewals are being streamlined. Apprenticeships for lorry driving and other jobs in the road haulage and logistics industry start early next year through the new Trailblazers scheme.
I look forward to working with Members of Parliament (including the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freight), local authorities, the haulage industry, the trade unions and all other interested stakeholders to develop our plans.