Scotland and COVID-19

Written by Martin Reid, RHA Director for Scotland and Northern Ireland

Like the rest of the UK, Scotland has been in a state of turmoil since the advent of COVID-19 and the upscaling of the Government’s advice to businesses.

We have been dealing with COVID-19 related member enquiries covering issues such as CPC, MOT cancellations and also access to wash facilities at distribution centres.

The latter presents a real threat to the nation’s health and puts our drivers at unnecessary risk.

In the last two days I have brought this up at the Food Sector Resilience Group, and this has brought an offer of support from the Scottish Retail Consortium.

I have sent through information to them along with the new RHA poster and asked that the Head of Policy send a “catch all” message to their members about how it is unacceptable at any time, let alone the in the situation we find ourselves in currently, to refuse toilet and wash facilities to drivers.

I’ve made the Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure, Michael Matheson, aware of this issue privately, but also at a meeting he called with the CEO of Transport Scotland and representatives of all the modes of freight and passenger transport.

The refusal to allow basic hygiene for drivers is creating a ticking time bomb for our industry where drivers and anyone they come in contact with will be in greater danger of coming into contact with the virus.

Although the Cab Sec has Liked a tweet I sent on the matter, I have asked Transport Scotland to push for a Ministerial statement on this and the CEO of Transport Scotland has said he will mention our concerns when speaking with DfT in the next day or so.

I have also sent a request into the CEO of Public Health Scotland for them to provide a letter for drivers entering Scottish regional distribution centres (RDCs) to mirror the good work done by Tom Cotton in England in securing a letter from Public Health England.

Like the rest of the devolved nations we await to see the shape of the financial support which will be made available to the industry.

We are, however, all grateful for some of the legislation that has been forthcoming over the past couple of days, all of which has come from pressure from RHA at a UK level.

The driver’s hours relaxation, the changes to the Traffic Commissioner’s Statutory Documents etc, but we need more.

Following on from feedback from Scottish members I have asked Transport Scotland to pressure the UK Govt to consider what can be done with the Working Time Directive in addition to the relaxation of drivers’ hours.

Our members need all the help they can get just now.

The same goes for getting answers about DCPC deadlines and how DVSA respond to MOT cancellations for our members in the remoter parts of Scotland.

All this and we still have potentially the biggest ever security risk for Scotland bubbling away in the background: COP26.

These COP26 meetings are still going on via teleconference often twice a week as are the Food Sector Resilience Group meetings.

A lot of great work has gone on in a very short time, but we still have our collective shoulders to the wheel on behalf of our members.

Your regional team are sending numerous updates out to members every day so keep checking your inbox, RHA social media and of course RoadwayLive.

Stay safe and informed during these unprecedented times.