Truckers 'desperate' for more facilities says Road Haulage Association after A38 lay-by toilet claim

A truckers group has said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed a lack of facilities for its drivers after reports of Birmingham lay-bys being used as toilets. The Road Haulage Association has slammed the authorities for a systemic lack of facilities available for lorry drivers around the country, which has been made ‘much, much worse’ due to facilities closing down during lockdowns. BirminghamLive reported concerns raised by Sutton Coldfield councillors that lay-bys on the A38 between Minworth Island and the M6 Toll were a ‘public health risk’ due to defecating and urinating drivers.

Three lay-bys along that stretch have been blighted by drivers using them for toilet breaks and also widespread littering making them an eyesore and risk to passing motorists with debris blown in the road. Councillors David Barrie and Ken Wood (Walmley and Minwirth, Cons.) called for the lay-bys to be closed to prevent the issues getting worse and to protect Birmingham City Council workers being placed at risk. Council staff had to change their clothes after going in to clean up, the councillors said and they started a petition calling for a temporary closure.

Cllr Barrie said: “We are asking for a short-term closure. We have sent in crews to try and clear this as truckers are using the grass verge as a toilet. “One of the council workers said he saw somebody lift the lid of a bin and used it as a toilet too.

“There is a public health risk. It really is quite big. We don’t want to send out crews in there.

They are not employed for that.” While Cllr Wood added: “Human waste is everywhere. It’s disgusting.

“Let’s shut the lay-bys and it will stop it getting worse. “We expect dog owners to clean up after their pets so why should lorry drivers be any different.” The problem is believed to have been caused due to facilities for drivers closing during the pandemic.

And now the Road Haulage Association has said the problem is not its drivers but a lack facilities around the country’s road network, exacerbated during the lockdowns. A spokeswoman for the association said: “The lack of facilities for HGV drivers in the UK is both a massive and long-standing issue. “Figures for 2020 give the length of the British road network to be 31,800 miles long – that’s 2,300 miles of motorway and 29,500 miles of ‘A’ roads.

“Between them there are approximately 111 service stations in operation. “With the UK truck fleet alone accounting for approximately half-a-million vehicles, it comes as no surprise that the ratio of facilities to drivers falls woefully short of what is needed.” The spokeswoman added: “Of course the RHA takes every possible opportunity to highlights the importance of including toilet facilities in proposed improvements/additions to the road network but for many, cash-strapped local authorities, any additions over and above the ‘road specific’ plans are quite simply out of the question.

“The majority of truck stops are operating a take-away service – they have to make an income. “The closure of facilities has undoubtedly made a bad situation much, much worse.” Birmingham City Council said it would not close lay-bys as that was not the solution.

A spokeswoman said: “It is incredibly disappointing to see our lay-bys being used as rubbish bins and toilets. “Lay-bys form an important part of the highway network, providing a safe place for emergency recovery and for HGV drivers to take their legally-required breaks. “Closing them is not part of the solution.

We should all have respect for our shared environment including our highways, and all of us – including drivers – have a responsibility to take care of it.”

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