Shortages crisis hits district

Supermarket shelves have been empty across the country.

Supermarket shelves have been empty across the country. - Credit: Supplied/Facebook

The nationwide shortage of HGV drivers and other labour is now starting to bite in St Albans, leading to empty shelves in our supermarkets and taking its toll on businesses.

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper said: "As well as struggling to recruit staff because so many EU nationals have left due to Brexit and Covid, hospitality businesses are now reporting that some suppliers are struggling to meet demand and that they are concerned about food supply leading up to Christmas. 

"I'm pressing the government to urgently establish an industry-wide support scheme to increase the rate of driver training and recruitment, to compensate small and medium-sized haulage firms for the costs involved with border checks and delays with our EU neighbours and to add HGV drivers to the UK Shortage Occupation list to attract overseas labour to the UK."

Meanwhile Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has met with local representatives from the National Farmers Union to discuss the difficulties faced by the food and drink sector in securing the supply of labour it needs.

"This is a wide-ranging and multi-faceted issue, influenced by a number of factors which have made it much more acute, including the Covid pandemic, immigration and travel restrictions," he said.

"I know that the Government is doing everything within its power to try and alleviate this issue. There is a cross departmental group meeting very regularly to tackle the problem, and the Home Secretary, Transport Secretary and other senior ministers are very focused on this.

"I will do what I can – both locally and in Westminster – to support our local farmers and ensure that the industry has all the support it can get as it tackles these short term problems with labour supply.”

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Sean Hughes, landlord of The Boot and owner of Dylan's and The Plough at Sleapshyde, explained how he has been affected: "We have had delivery issues at The Boot for the past seven weeks with strike action causing grave problems with our brewery Heineken’s ability to deliver beer.

"We are now starting to see CO2 shortages across the UK and with major staff shortages in the food preparation industry we will see limitations on the range of products we can sell. 

"All in all, with the addition of staffing shortages across hospitality in St Albans, we are in a very challenging situation even without Covid.

"It may sound bleak but we are a resilient industry and like we have seen with the challenges presented to us over the last 18 months we will adapt and will continue to do what is required to survive this next stage."