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Chilled food will struggle to reach some shops in the UK this summer, logistics organisations have warned, due to a lack of drivers and production workers.A chronic shortage of HGV drivers, exacerbated by Brexit and Covid, is now running into unusua…
YANGON/BANGKOK — Myanmar’s military on Feb. 1 detained State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint in the country’s first coup since 1988, bringing an end to a decade of civilian rule.
The Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy had won…
It saw total victory for the Sheffield haulier, which grew with the popularity of road transport, while the giant rail depot withered with the decline of the steel industry and died.
But the story has a twist.
For the trucking firm has just spent £3m reviving the railhead. And co-founder Frank Newell say it’s his crowning achievement.
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Over just seven weeks earlier this year, the company laid out three acres of concrete and 700 yards of track and reconnected the yard to the rail network.
Today it is home to more than 800 shipping containers and receives two 34-wagon freight trains a day from the port of Felixstowe.
The service saves up to 400,000 road miles a week, cutting lorry pollution and congestion, and is already close to its 1,000 container capacity.
Frank, aged 69, said its popularity was a relief.
“It was a very big commitment for us as a family business. I’ve been in business for 50 years and have always taken educated gambles. You get to the stage where you have to play forward and do it.
“It’s the best thing I have done. I’m so proud of what we have achieved.”
A mechanic by trade, his youngest son, Anthony, aged 17, is employed in the workshop ‘on the spanners’ learning lorry maintenance.
Sons Stephen, 43, and John, 49, also worked their way up.
Frank added: “Going through the ranks gives them a good insight.”
He started with one lorry in 1971 and, with Paul Wright, built the firm into a £50m-a-year business that employs 300.
It is one of just a handful of road hauliers that have moved into rail and Tinsley is the only operation of its type in South Yorkshire, it is claimed.
Stephen said growing concerns about climate change led the firm to move fast.
“You have to be careful you don’t get left behind,” he added.
Containers are mostly from China and India and hold everything from patio slabs to clothing to car parts. But they do not have high value items like iPhones or ‘high consequence products’ like fireworks.
About 55 can fit on a train and they are unloaded by four £500,000 ‘box stackers’, including one which runs on hydrogenated vegetable oil, a green fuel.
Containers are taken to their final destination by lorry, some 80 a day in a 24-hour operation.
Stephen said they had used local suppliers, with concrete from Cemex in Attercliffe, reinforcing from BRC in Barnsley and ballast from Aggregate Industries’ quarry in Buxton.
The site is owned by Network Rail and leased to Newell & Wright for 35 years, with a reduction on rent because it is a brownfield site, he added.
Its success meant they planned to add two more services, with freight trainers from Southampton and London Gateway on the Suffolk coast.
A second phase of expansion could see a similar-sized platform and storage area built to the south, closer to the bridge over the Parkway, near Junction 33 of the M1.
A third phase could use land to the north, close to two large warehouses that were built on what was the widest part of the marshalling yard.
In 1961, a tenth of the rail-borne freight in Britain originated in the Sheffield district. Tinsley Marshalling Yard was opened by the infamous Dr Richard Beeching in 1965 to serve the steel industry. At its height it handled 200 locomotives and 3,000 wagons a day.
But within a few short years it was hit by competition from road and closed in stages from 1985.
Duncan Clark, of Newell and Wright, said part of the site was cut out of rock and part was electrified, receiving electric trains from Manchester that came through the now closed Woodhead tunnel.
The yard was disused and disconnected from the rail network when Newell and Wright took it on. A new link was laid to the north connecting to a local line near Shepcote junction and then on to Rotherham station, Doncaster and the East Coast Mainline.
The company hopes to connect the site from the south providing a simpler and more direct route into the network, he added.
Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts said the company’s achievement was ‘fantastic’ and he would speak to the mayor of South Yorkshire and Department of Transport about providing financial backing.
He added: “I think what they have done is incredible and what they want to do is fantastic. It’s really rising to the climate challenge.
“I will be speaking to the mayor about how we can engage, this is a really important part of local infrastructure and should benefit a lot of firms.
“It’s also of national significance and I’ll be speaking to the Department of Transport about providing some sort of financial backing and support.
“There have been various plans over the years to reopen the yard but these guys have done it.”
Kevin Newman, senior route freight manager for Network Rail, hailed the site as part of the ‘vital role that freight has played in the country’s response to the Covid pandemic and how important it is to the recovery of the economy’.
“Reopening routes, expanding services and gaining new freight customers, as well as running longer, heavier trains, is helping to get more HGVs off the road.”
Newell & Wright Transport was formed in 1974 by Frank Newell and Paul Wright. At that time it was a ‘very small general haulage company’ operating from rented premises.
Over the years it grew and moved to larger sites three times before setting up, in 1987, on its current 6.5 acre freehold site at Tinsley.
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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.
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Headed to Europe, Ali Virk documented his risky and grueling journey from Pakistan to the Greek border. After losing a friend on the route, he used the footage to warn people about the dangers of irregular migration.
“Along the way, one of us lied down…
THE Brexit disasters are coming thick and fast. As climate change accelerates, the Australian trade deal will fly inferior beef and lamb around the world to displace higher-quality Welsh and Scottish products, driving small farmers out of business. The RSPCA has warned Australia’s animal welfare standards are far below those of the EU and begged Boris Johnson not to sign the agreement. Australia allows barren battery cages, sow stalls, hot branding, sheep mutilation and doesn’t require slaughterhouse CCTV or food, water or temperature control for live animal exports.
Meanwhile, soft fruit crops will rot in the fields thanks to a shortage of EU seasonal workers. A Fife soft fruit and veg farmer, Iain Brown, said Scotland is falling short of the 10,000 fruit pickers needed to bring in this summer’s crops. Down in England’s new lorry park in Kent, Winterwood Farms has seen applications for seasonal work drop by 90% over the last two years. From the end of June, people who haven’t got pre-settled status can’t work. It’s no good hoping domestic workers will travel long distances to reach the fields, set up camp and engage in physically demanding work in all kinds of weather.
The haulage industry in Scotland has reported a shortage of 11,000 drivers due to Covid, Brexit and recent tax changes, which is hitting the supply of goods to shops and businesses and increasing prices.
The Scottish hospitality industry is reeling from staff shortages after EU nationals left and many domestic workers sought alternative work during the pandemic, forcing many businesses to limit customer numbers that will result in business failures.
Westminster has never cared about Scotland. We can make our own decisions only when we restore our independence. In the meantime, we can pelt rotten fruit at Mr Johnson next time he dares to venture north.
Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh.
THE HARD CASH JUST ISN’T THERE
I AM grateful to Frances McKie (Letters, June 16) for her detailed list of recent Scottish economic and other successes.
UK exports in April 2021 were £49.4 billion and appear to be heading back to their pre-pandemic levels. There is no evidence so far that Brexit is doing any damage, however much flak continues to be aimed at the referendum result. Even the Australians think that a flood of exported meat into the UK is unlikely, so the fears of the Scottish farming community may well be unfounded. I will be buying Scottish beef, lamb and pork from my local butcher regardless. It is good to have a choice though.
How foreign-manufactured wind turbines help Scotland’s fiscal deficit is a calculation I would very much like to see. The 2020 rise in inward investment projects is very welcome. Notice in the latter case that the press around this success fails to mention the monetary value of the investments concerned. Doing so would illustrate how little is its contribution in relation to a pre-pandemic budget deficit in 2019/20 of more than £15bn.
It is indeed ironic that Ms McKie chooses to highlight the growth in UK national debt over the last 10 years. All efforts to contain or even reduce that debt have – unless memory serves me incorrectly – been furiously derided in Scotland as (choose your adjective) “Tory austerity”.
Ms McKie’s closing paragraph sums up the Scottish problem. It is easy to talk up a positive but vague and soft focus vision of Scotland. You can clearly see, though, that the hard cash just isn’t there.
Grant Ballantyne, Paisley.
ENGLISH-ONLY VOTES DO AFFECT US
JILL Stephenson (Letters, June 17) claims that Michael Gove’s proposal to end English Votes for English Laws (Evel) is intended to appease the SNP. Not so for several reasons, of which the most important is Mr Gove (and Boris Johnson’s focus) on a UNITED Kingdom which is now described, for instance, by the Commonwealth as “an island country that sits north-west of mainland Europe. It is made up of mainland Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and the northern part of the island of Ireland”, when just 12 months ago it consisted of “three countries plus the ‘province’ of NI”. For the UK to become the focus, a law such as Evel is a contradiction and an obstacle to Mr Gove’s ends.
In any event, Evel conceals its own anomalies, as there are some issues which appear to apply only to England, but which have implications for Scotland. For instance, if a motion is put to the House for NHS spending in England only, it may appear that Evel should apply, but this ignores the fact that any spending variation in England will have implications for the Scottish block grant.
Ms Stephenson then goes on to over-generalise wildly, claiming that “English MPs have no input into matters affecting only Scotland” – but with their numerical dominance they have plenty of input into tax, trade policy including the recent agreement with Australia and Brexit, and defence. Indeed, Mr Johnson’s majority in the House of Commons (80) exceeds the number of MPs sitting for Scottish constituencies for any party (59).
She is correct that devolution throws up significant anomalies as Tam Dalyell forecast, but when one part of a political union has the sort of numerical dominance that England enjoys, the democratic deficit for the other constituent parts (OK, Mr Gove, not nations) is substantially more significant.
Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.
COMPARE THE TWO GOVERNMENTS
STRUAN Stevenson (“The SNP Government’s catalogue of mistakes will soon come back to haunt it”, The Herald, June 17) and Guy Stenhouse (“Action, not words, are needed to solve ferries fiasco”, The Herald, June 14) bleat week after week about the shortcomings of the SNP Government. Much of what they say is true, but their writings would have more credibility if they balanced the SNP’s failings with those of the Westminster Government.
Apart from the successful vaccine roll-out, I find it hard to think of any successes of Boris Johnson’s Government. However, like Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, Mr Johnson seems to be in continued favour with his largely English support.
If I can suggest a title for Mr Stevenson’s next epistle, it would be “Compare and contrast the failures of the two governments’’.
Sam Craig, Glasgow G11.
PROOF THE UK IS NOT A NATION
I HAVE tried to be tolerant in the interests of free speech and have regarded the incessant anti-SNP barrage of letters by Dr Gerald Edwards as an amusing distraction from serious debate. It does become a bit tiresome at times and I have to respond today to his assertion (Letters, June 16) that “the need for independence” is in some way linked with the SNP or Brexit. The case for independence is totally linked to the plight of our Scottish nation which has no opportunity to elect a government of its own choice. Neither the actions of the SNP nor the consequences of Brexit will change the situation; only the people of Scotland can rectify this democratic deficit.
Neither Britain nor the UK is a nation and anyone who doubts this should have their doubts dispelled this evening (June 18).
Willie Maclean, Milngavie.
DO NEW LAW OFFICERS BACK INDY?
THE Scottish Parliament has backed a motion seeking agreement to recommend to the Queen that Dorothy Bain QC and Ruth Charteris QC be appointed the new Scottish law officers; respectively lord advocate and solicitor general. Were both candidates asked for their opinions about the legal status of an independence referendum held without the consent of the Prime Minister? I’m sure both will have been asked, and surely both will have given an affirmative answer? Would they have been chosen otherwise? However, neither question nor answers will be acknowledged; we can expect evasion and fudge of a high order.
Another current item of legal news is the recent death, on May 31, of James Crawford, Professor Emeritus of International Law at the University of Cambridge. Prof Crawford was scathing about the Scottish Government’s claim that an independent Scotland would remain a member of such international organisations as the UN and the IMF. He claimed that the “overwhelming weight” of precedence pointed to Scotland being treated as a new state; meaning having to renegotiate some 14,000 separate treaties and applying afresh to join international bodies. Professor Crawford’s opinion does not die with him.
William Durward, Bearsden.
UK – This week we saw one of the UK’s oldest established names in shipping rebrand with a new website and contact addresses. Since opening a chandlery business in 1833 in Hull, close to the company’s current headquarters, the John Good name has seen ma…