Somerset’s waste collection contractor Suez is offering HGV drivers a £1,000 “welcome bonus” as it apologised to residents for ongoing service disruption.

The Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) which oversees collections in the county, said the cash reflected tough competition in Somerset, where the HGV driver shortage was more acute due to a glut of local distribution hubs.

The one-off bonus from Suez is conditional on successfully passing a probationary period.

The county needs 25 full-time permanent HGV drivers and loaders for collecting and recycling and it has been using more agency drivers in the short term.

Suez is also funding training for its recycling loaders to become HGV drivers.

Matt Canning, Suez contract director, said: “Working in recycling keeps you fit and helps the environment.

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“For those who want to develop their careers, there is plenty of scope to get on, such as the loader-to-driver courses.

“Our HGV drivers are working in Somerset, starting early but finishing early, with no overnight stays away from home.

“Our crews are part of the local community, providing an essential service in all weathers; it’s rewarding work,” he added.

SWP’s MD Mickey Green said the welcome bonus came on top of a retention bonus for drivers, a weekly performance bonus for all staff and “considerable efforts to recruit, retrain and retain drivers.”

He said: “These measures will take time to have an impact, and we apologise to residents of Somerset for the ongoing service disruption.”

Recently, Exeter council suspended garden waste collections due to a lack of drivers.