UK considering temporary measures to ease HGV driver shortage

The UK's transport secretary promised to 'move heaven and earth' to get the situation solved.

Ministers met to discuss the plans on Friday, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come over the weekend. Jaroslaw Kilian via IStock
Ministers met to discuss the plans on Friday, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come over the weekend.

The UK Government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of industries.

No 10 insisted on Friday night that any measures introduced would be “very strictly time-limited” amid reports that Boris Johnson had allowed ministers to relax UK immigration rules to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

And although Downing Street would not confirm whether any decisions had been made, the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps earlier promised to “move heaven and earth” to get the situation solved.

The Financial Times and the Telegraph reported that the Prime Minister had given ministers the go-ahead to temporarily lift visa restrictions for foreign drivers.

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The newspapers said up to 5000 temporary visas could be granted for HGV drivers, while the Financial Times said a similar number would be approved for food processing workers, especially in the poultry industry.

Ministers met to discuss the plans on Friday, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come over the weekend.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the changes had come too late for many.

He said: “The arrogance of Boris Johnson has cost jobs. He knew there was a fix to this problem but ploughed on regardless. He owes the British people an apology.”

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It comes as the CBI called for ministers to establish a taskforce on the same level as the Cobra emergency committee to deal with supply issues which have seen petrol forecourts close and empty shelves in supermarkets.

And there have been warnings that disruption to festive preparations will be “inevitable” if progress is not made to solve the shortfall of around 90,000 lorry drivers.

Esso, BP and Tesco forecourts have been affected by challenges getting petrol deliveries.

BP said that around 20 of its 1200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

And on Friday the EG Group, which has around 400 petrol stations in the UK, said it was imposing a £30 limit on customers “due to the current unprecedented customer demand for fuel”.

Meanwhile, around one in six adults in Britain said they were not able to buy essential food items at some point during the past two weeks due to products not being available, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.

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A Downing Street spokesman said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.

“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary Covid-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.

“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.

“We are moving to a high-wage, high-skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.

The transport secretary earlier tried to dissuade drivers from panic-buying petrol, although there have been chaotic scenes at petrol stations across the country.

On Friday queues started to form outside some filling stations.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “HGV drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together.

“Without them, we are unable to move goods from farms to warehouses to shops.

“Currently, the UK faces a shortfall of around 90,000 HGV drivers and it is consumers who ultimately suffer the consequences.”

Tony Danker, CBI director-general, said: “After speaking with hundreds of business leaders this week, it’s clear there’s a total mindset shift from growing to coping.

“This is now a major threat to our recovery and the Government needs to step up its response to a new level of both speed and boldness.

“Government is right to keep up the pressure on companies to adapt and not rely on immigration long term, but temporary visas are the only way to alleviate the disruption of shortages in critical skilled parts of the economy in weeks and months instead of years.

“Getting skills programmes right immediately is key to ensuring that these measures are only needed temporarily.”


Coronavirus: Another 18 Omicron cases recorded in Scotland

Scottish Government data shows one coronavirus-linked death and 2067 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours.

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A total of 48 people have contracted the Omicron variant in Scotland.

A total of 18 new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 48.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the largest rise, with 12 more cases, taking its total to 23.

NHS Lanarkshire recorded four new cases in 24 hours and has 13 overall.

One more case was confirmed in the Forth Valley health board area, taking the total to six.

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A case of the new variant was recorded in NHS Lothian for the first time. Case numbers in NHS Highland and NHS Grampian remain at three and two respectively.

Scotland has also recorded one coronavirus-linked death and 2067 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data.

The Scottish Government said Public Health Scotland is aware of an “ongoing processing issue with UK Government lab tests which may impact on cases and tests” in the daily figures and investigations are under way to resolve the problem.

The death toll under the daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, is 9649, but the Scottish Government said registry office are generally closed at the weekend which can impact figures.

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The daily test positivity rate was 9.6%, up from 7.6% the previous day.

There were 586 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 as of Saturday night and, of these, 45 were in intensive care.

So far, 4,352,104 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, 3,958,162 have had a second, and 1,859,735 have been given a third dose or booster.

Body found in the search for missing 28-year-old man

The family of Joel McDiarmid has been informed of the discovery.

Police Scotland
Joel McDiarmid went missing in the Bathgate area last month.

A body has been found in the search for a 28-year-old man who went missing in West Lothian last month.

The family of Joel McDiarmid from Bathgate has been informed of the discovery, although formal identification is yet to take place.

There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.


Mountain rescue teams battle blizzard after man injured in avalanche

They assisted a man who injured his leg during an avalanche.

Cairngorm MT via Facebook

A climber who injured his leg during an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands was rescued as mountain teams faced heavy blizzard conditions.

In dramatic footage posted by Cairngorm MRT, rescuers can be seen battling the elements to assist the man.

The climbers were able to self-rescue down to the floor of Coire an t-Sneachda where they were met by rescuers and stretchered back to the ski area.

The footage was captured on Saturday, with multiple reports of avalanches.

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In a Facebook post, Cairngorm MRT wrote: “MRT just back from a call out for an male with a lower leg injury sustained during an avalanche. The climbers were able to self rescue down to the coire floor, where they were met by team members and stretchered back to the Cairngorm ski area.

“There were multiple reports of avalanches in Coire an t-Sneachda this afternoon.

“Many thanks to Cairngorm Mountain for their assistance duringWe rely on public donations to fund the work that we do, if you would like to contribute, you can also go to our website – https://cmrt.org.uk

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 12.50pm on Saturday, December 4, we received a report of two people falling in an avalanche at Coire A S-Sneachda.

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“Officers and the Cairngorms Mountain Rescue Team were dispatched, and the man and woman were later traced at a nearby rescue post.”

“The man was stretchered off the hill and transported to Raigmore Hospital for treatment to a leg injury.”


Teenagers arrested after 21-year-old man stabbed in city centre

The incident took place on Saturday afternoon.

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Police say that the teenagers will appear in court at a later date, whilst the investigation continues.

Two teenagers have been arrested and charged by police after a 21-year-old was stabbed in Glasgow City Centre.

Officers responded to a report of a man being stabbed on Ingram Street at around 3.30pm on Saturday, December 4.

The man was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary and remains there with “serious injuries”.

Police say that the teenagers will appear in court at a later date, whilst the investigation continues.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We were called to a report of a man being stabbed on Ingram Street around 3.30pm on Saturday 4 December 2021.

“A 21-year-old man was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where he remains with serious injuries.

“Two 17-year-old males have been arrested and charged in connection with the incident, and will appear in court at a later date.

“The investigation is continuing.”


Growing concern for missing man after belongings found at loch

Lawrence Penswick was last seen on Babylon Road in Bellshill in the early hours of Friday morning.

Police Scotland
Lawrence Penswick was last seen in the early hours of Friday morning.

Police in North Lanarkshire are appealing for help to find a missing man whose belongings were recovered near Strathclyde Loch.

Officers are looking for 57-year-old Lawrence Penswick, who was last seen around 2.40am on Friday at Babylon Road in Bellshill.

It’s believed he has travelled to Strathclyde Country Park after some of his belongings were recovered near the south side of Strathclyde Loch.

Lawrence is described as a black male, 5ft 10 inches tall, of a medium build and with short black hair.

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He was last seen wearing a grey “bubble” style jacket and a dark-coloured baseball cap.

His family are growing increasingly concerned for his welfare and anyone with information is asked to call 101, citing reference number 2311 of 4 December.

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Three people in hospital after multi-vehicle smash on the A9

The two men and a woman were taken to Raigmore Hospital.

© Google Maps 2020
Police have appealed for information who may have information about the incident to contact them.

Two men and a woman were taken to hospital following a three-vehicle crash in the Highlands.

The collision took place on Friday, December 3, at around 6.36pm on the A9 at Cuach, north of Dalwhinnie.

A Black Vauxhall Zafira, a red Audi A3 and a silver Volkswagon Touran were the vehicles involved.

The two men and the woman were taken to Raigmore Hospital where they were treated for their injuries.

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None are believed to be life threatening. 

Police are now appealing for anyone who may have information about the incident to contact them.

Sergeant Neil MacDonald of Roads Policing Unit said: “Our enquiries into the cause of this crash are ongoing and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area at the time to please get in touch.

“In particular, we are keen to speak to anyone who saw the cars or who may have dash-cam footage that can help with our investigation.

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“If you can help, please contact us on 101, quoting reference 2819 of December 3.”


Man arrested over driving offences following pensioner’s death

Police say a man was arrested and then released pending further enquiries after the death of Douglas Forbes.

Police Scotland
Police are investigating the death of Douglas Forbes.

A man has been arrested in relation to driving offences following the death of a pensioner in Edinburgh.

Police Scotland said a 69-year-old man was arrested ater Douglas Forbes, 78, was found fatally injured at Academy Park in the Leith area of the city at around 8.50pm on Thursday night.

The man under arrest has since been released and enquiries are ongoing.

Forbes was pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday.

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A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Following the death of 78-year-old Douglas Forbes, at Academy Park in Edinburgh, on Thursday 2 December, we can confirm a 69-year old man has been arrested in relation to driving offences.

“He’s been released pending further enquiries and the investigation continues.”

Anyone with information can contact 101, quoting incident number 3329 of 2 December 2021.


Final push to restore power to homes impacted by Storm Arwen

Around 30 properties were left without power overnight on Saturday.

STV News
Significant damage was caused by Storm Arwen, with many homes left without power for several days.

Work is being undertaken to connect the final few homes in Scotland left without power as a result of Storm Arwen.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said that bad weather had hampered progress for repair teams on Saturday, which left around 30 properties without power overnight.

It comes after more than 100 military personnel were deployed to assist those without power.

Mark Rough, SSEN’s director of operations, said that field staff are working to reconnect the final homes “as quickly and safely as possible”.

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“The weather conditions have been really challenging for our teams today, but we are continuing to work throughout Saturday night to safely connect the final few homes,” he said.

“Our localised network has sustained significant damage and through a combination of repairs and mobile generation we will continue to work until all power is restored.

“We have over 700 field staff working with support from other network operators and contractors from across Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and everyone is making a real effort to reconnect the final homes as quickly and safely as possible.”

“I’d like to thank customers for their continued patience and apologise for the disruption caused.

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“We continue to work closely with local authorities and local resilience partnerships in Aberdeenshire to support welfare checks to those who remain off supply.” 


‘When they dig it up, hopefully Covid will be gone’

Time capsule buried to mark a major milestone in the development of Scotland's largest offshore windfarm.

STV News

Face masks, hand sanitiser and fidget spinners were among the items loaded into a time capsule and buried to mark Scotland’s largest offshore windfarm.

Various mementos, including newspapers, magazines and toys, will remain under the Seagreen windfarm maintenance hub at Montrose Port for a generation.

It’s hoped that when the time capsule is dug up at the end of the windfarm’s 25-year lifespan, memories of Covid will be dim and distant, and that the turbines will have generated a greener society.

Construction of the giant £3bn windfarm is well underway off the Angus coast and will feature 114 turbines generating enough energy to power two-thirds of Scotland’s homes.

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Steven Reid, Seagreen onshore project manager, said: “This is an extremely big milestone of the project to set up our operation and maintenance facility.

“It is going to be key to maintaining and operating the 114 turbines that we’re putting out in the water.

“This base will have up to 120 people in full-time roles once we have all the turbines in place and switched on.”

A piper-led special ceremony also saw the onshore base officially named, thanks to nine-year-old local schoolgirl Lily Hill, whose suggestion of ‘Windy Waves House’ was chosen from a number of competition entries.

STV News
Lily Hill was stunned to learn she had named the windfarm’s maintenance hub.
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“We’ve been learning about plastic pollution at school and green energy, and how the wind will be used to make electricity,” Lily said.

“It’s so exciting to have won the competition, I can’t believe it and didn’t expect it at all.”

Fellow pupil Olivia Coull, who put some modern-day essentials into the time capsule, hopes the items won’t be needed when they’re dug up.

“We picked masks and sanitisers because of Covid and hopefully in 25 years it won’t be a big thing anymore,” she said.


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