Ups and downs

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Jeff at Trentbarton’s Heanor headquarters. JONATHAN WELCH

Jonathan Welch continues his conversation with recently-retired Trentbarton Managing Director Jeff Counsell

I ended my conversation with Jeff last week discussing the issues facing Trentbarton and the wider industry, speaking about the driver shortage, vehicle investment and Government support. As Jeff looked forward to impending retirement, but with an uphill struggle still ahead across the sector, I wondered what he thought the way forward might be. Addressing the driver shortage first, Jeff explained: “We weren’t apathetic before, but we’ve really focused our attentions on driver recruitment and retention. We go to jobs fairs, we go to major employers who are laying people off, we have a stand on Loughborough marketplace every Thursday. One of the biggest problems for us was the DVLA delays in 2021. The length of time it took for provisional PCV licences to come though… when people are looking for jobs, if its taking 13 weeks to get a licence and someone else offers them a job in between, they’re going to go there. We lost a lot of people like that. The DVLA has improved now, it’s a lot better but it’s slipping again. If we’re to keep the economy going, the process has to be as slick and fast as possible for PCV and HGV.”

It is not just a case of sorting the paperwork, but also training, Jeff said, and even a seemingly easy task of appointing more driving instructors is difficult when it means taking them away from driving duties at already stretched depots to take up the role. “We’ve doubled the number of driving instructors, and we’re working with an external training provider now too. We’re also making sure to keep in touch with people after we receive their applications, as we found many were booked in for an interview but wouldn’t turn up. We’ll send them a message beforehand to make sure they’re still coming.”


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