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Efforts to tackle the lorry driver shortage in Scotland are being hampered by a lack of training providers and a shortage of second-hand trucks, a major HGV driver training school warned this week.

Jim McEwan, director at Commercial Transport Training Services (CTTS) in Bathgate, West Lothian told MT that whilst there is “an abundance” of HGV driver tests available for trainee HGV drivers, they cannot be utilised.

He said: “There is just no spare capacity to meet the demand. Take our local Livingstone Test Centre. If I look on the system right now there are eight tests on Tuesday, seven on Wednesday, five on Thursday and one of Friday, but these cannot be booked because there are not enough training providers to meet demand. We have 13 bits of kit and they are all out and we just cannot get anymore trainers.”

Fellow director Jim Gillan said the problem is compounded by a shortage of second hand trucks on the market.

“The demand is there and we would like to expand our capacity but we cannot because there is just no second hand trucks to be had on the market right now,” he said, adding that competition for any truck that is put up for sale is fierce.

McEwan said that his trainees are also struggling to get theory test slots in Scotland, partly created by the influx of candidates wishing to take advantage of rising HGV driver pay rates.

As a result, some HGV drivers in Scotland are being forced to book their tests south of the border, he said, with some of his trainees having travelled as far as London in a bid to speed up the process of qualifying as an HGV driver.

“In Scotland in the past seven months it has been so difficult to book a theory test that some of my trainees have had to cross the border into England, taking their tests in Carlisle, Leeds, Harrogate, Morpeth and Kendal. We even had two travel all the way to Canary Wharf, just to avoid the long wait here.”

Gillan described the government’s decision to free up examiners by scrapping the test for towing trailers up to 3,500kgs, as “ludicrous”.

He said: “That has freed up a lot of tests but at the expense of road safety and we don’t have the capacity to take advantage of those tests anyway, because of the shortage of training providers and second hand trucks.”

He called on the government to attract HGV drivers back into the industry by overhauling the Driver CPC requirement.

“Instead of removing the B+E test for trailers and endangering road safety the government should have suspended the Driver CPC requirement. The CPC drove a lot of drivers out of the industry because no way were they going to spend five days in a classroom. Now, if that was removed, you would get a lot of older drivers back into the industry overnight,” he said.