Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom learned first-hand about some of the challenges facing the haulage industry during a visit to family-run Moody Logistics.
She toured its logistics hub in Cramlington, Northumberland, and met managing director Caroline Moody along with dozens of staff on Wednesday (27 November).
Mrs Leadsom also inspected the company’s fully restored 1950s Bedford truck ‘Peggy’ as well as climbing aboard the latest addition to its fleet, a £75,000 Iveco tractor unit ‘Geordie Knight’.
Accompanied by Ian Levy, the Conservative candidate for the Blyth Valley Constituency, she also held a 15-minute private meeting with Caroline to discuss some of the issues currently affecting the haulage industry.
Managing director, Caroline Moody, said: “I was keen to represent the views of the smaller independent operators who make up the majority of the UK’s haulage industry and wanted to impress upon her the vital role it plays in satisfying the demand for cheaper goods and keeping this country stocked and supplied.”
She said that in 2017 499,400 HGVs which were licensed in Great Britain, carried 1.4 billion tonnes a total of 18.6 billion kilometres – with the road freight sector contributing around £12 billion to the UK economy.
“The industry is heavily regulated and is highly susceptible to rises in fuel costs and fluctuations in the global and UK economy,” she added.
“I particularly highlighted the national shortage of qualified HGV drivers, which currently stands at 59,000, and explained the importance of narrowing this skills gulf. Mrs Leadsom was interested to learn how Moody Logistics is addressing this problem through its development of driver apprentices but made the point that this opportunity needs to be widened to include older people.
“I hope I impressed upon her the need for government to fully support the haulage and logistics industry as it is not always high on the political agenda – but it plays a crucial part in this country’s economic success.”
Mrs Leadsom said: “It has been really interesting to see the high-tech nature of how an operation like this is run and to meet some of the staff and to see their commitment.
“Logistics is vital, and it is really important for the UK that we continue to support thriving family businesses such as Moody Logistics.”
As well as touring the warehousing facility and operations hub, Mrs Leadsom also visited sister company MCR Services as well as viewing the ongoing construction work to create a new 6,000sq ft unit for service and repair centre Heathline Commercials Ltd.