Council office workers are being retrained to work as waste lorry drivers, as councils are desperate amid staff shortages.

Last week it emerged that various Herts councils have been hit by a national driver shortage stemmed from Brexit, which coupled with self-isolation pings and illnesses in the pandemic, is causing delays to services county-wide.

As a result councils have had to find their own solutions in tackling the driver shortages, with most councils in agreement that they are facing shortage issues.

Addressing the increasing pressures on waste services during a meeting of the Hertfordshire Waste Partnership last Monday (July 26), some councils explained that office workers were being retrained to cover a shortage of LGV drivers.

In Dacorum, Cllr Graham Barrett said they had retrained four existing members of staff who have no achieved an LGV licence, in addition their regular pool of drivers.

Likewise in in Broxbourne, Cllr David Holliday said they were now “really struggling” with staff – pointing to the combination of Covid isolations, staff vacancies and particularly the shortage of LGV drivers.

He said: “We have had supervisors going out and filling the gaps to make sure that the lorries are still manned – and that has given us the benefit of actually still maintaining the services.

“The negative part of it is we have had a quite significant upturn in missed collections because temporary staff aren’t as familiar with some of the nuances of where bins are placed as the regulars are.”

Three Rivers revealed they gave 29 lorry drivers – covering all council services – a salary increase of up to £3,000 for the next 12 months, starting in August.

Cllr Phil Williams said: “We have had the same problems as everybody else – and dealing with them in similar manners.

“Although we have paid our drivers a retention to save them going off and finding a job that they are going to earn an extra £5,000 a year in.

“We have been approaching them and offering them a retention to keep them on board.”

In addition he said the crews in Three Rivers were continuing with Covid measures – such as staggered starts and bubbles – to reduce absences.

Meanwhile Simon Aries also acknowledged that the driver shortage had impacted on services at the county council’s Waterdale waste transfer station near Watford.

He said the shortage of drivers for the ‘bulkers’ had for a time led to longer queues that they had wanted.

He told members that if there was disruption in the coming weeks – that meant sites had to be closed – they would prioritise the opening of the larger HWRC sites.