Truckers’ Toilets Newsletter July 2016


Campaign to improve the health & well-being of lorry drivers

July 2016 – NEWSLETTER 4-1

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT meeting: This took place at the Department of Transport in Horseferry Road, London on Friday 15 July and was an open and frank session. Taking part were Duncan Price the Head of Freight, Operator Licensing and Roadworthiness [we’d met at the RHA Annual Lunch] and David Pope, Freight Division [It was good to meet him and we got on well]. The first half of the meeting centred on HSE issues with a telephone link to the Acting Head of the Transport Sector at HSE. We discussed various concerns and came up with a list of ways forward. The second half focused on facilities on various routes. Our discussions centred around solutions suggested in Laybys, Loos & Lorry Drivers, a document that TTUK compiled with input from drivers. A further list of actions was made. This was a meeting in which the problems were highlighted and ACTIONS to improve the situation were made. There’s a lot to do, but we now have positive avenues to address and support for what we’re trying to achieve. This is just what we wanted. Watch this space!

ROAD HAULAGE ASSOCIATION: Following on from the DfT meeting Gill updated the RHA from TTUK’s perspective and was pleased at the positive response. See more under HEALTH

BREXIT: Well, it’s all change in the new cabinet and Chris Grayling is now Secretary of State for Transport. End of communication – not that there was any – with Claire Perry who resigned as Rail Minister and Richard Burden MP, Shadow Minister in Labour’s Transport Team who also resigned but who had been supportive of what TTUK is working to achieve. However MPs are not necessarily the first port of call so all is not lost. It is the communication with appropriate Government departments that matter to us. Once we’ve got the actions and solutions – and evidence – clarified and even piloted, it will be then that we will turn to our MPs to sanction the decisions. However the template for drivers to write to their MP is now available, so feel free to make your feelings known.

GOOD NEWS re AMAZON: Apparently Amazon is increasing HGV parking at their Dunfermline centre [Dunfermline Press 21/6]. Whilst this is mainly due to complaints from local people and MPs it would seem that Amazon is taking the opportunity to include welfare facilities which should reduce the current roadside urination rate. Apparently the council introduced parking restrictions but the chair of the City of Dunfermline area committee, Councillor Helen Law is quoted as saying ‘There are no facilities for the drivers and I don’t think it’s right that they can be driving the length of the country for hours and be left with no facilities.’ It’s a start but how drivers manage in the meantime we’re not told. Comments anyone? [thanks to David S for the article]

HIDDEN TALENTS: Our Ed had experience of the hidden talents of lorry drivers when she was caught up in a heavy traffic jam recently. Due to an accident cars and lorries were backed up along a busy stretch of dual carriageway between London Colney and Hatfield in Hertfordshire. Seeing that emergency services needed access out came the lorry drivers who tested the verges [by jumping on them] and then directed cars, lorries, vans onto both sides of the road enabling the fire engines and police vehicles to pass through. Impressive! She also learned that many lorry drivers are first aiders. We do need to see beyond the vehicle and appreciate the professionalism of the drivers behind the wheel. This is one of the reasons that progress in our campaign is slow – a large number of us, the public and transport organisations too, just don’t think about the person who is behind the wheel and then wonder why there’s a driver shortage!

MORE AWARENESS! June 24th was the day that the In/Out Referendum result was announced and it was also the start of Utopia Fair which took place that weekend at Somerset House. The ‘Around the Toilet’ team from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield had 2 adjoining stands ‘Travelling Toilet Tales’ and ‘Servicing Utopia’ where there were opportunities to listen to people’s stories, design a loo and even a city. It was a fantastic opportunity to get people thinking about lorry drivers and other mobile workers. Some visitors to the stands had family members who were drivers whilst others admitted that they’d never thought that drivers had difficulties accessing a loo. Gill visited most of the stands in the courtyard to spread the word and found a lot of interest. To crown a successful weekend the taxi driver Gill hailed promised to distribute our Lorry Drivers Need Loos handout to his colleagues in the ranks he visited. Very encouraging!

SOME FRUSTRATIONS TOO! Just a little while back teachers went on strike about their working conditions presumably with union support leaving parents with the difficulties of finding childcare. OK that’s their decision but at least teachers have access to toilets during their working day – not always easy to visit when teaching a class but loos are available within the school. Lorry drivers risk a fine if they use the roadside as a loo because they do NOT have easily reachable access to toilets during THEIR working hours and they do not appear to have such active support from the Unions either. Why is there this discrimination? How did it get to this situation? Why aren’t the Unions actively addressing the problem for the mobile sector? [Note: our Ed was once a teacher]

TOILETS CONTRIBUTE TO HEALTH: One of our supporters, Mick, is doing a brilliant job talking about the importance of toilets to health and has been successful in petitioning Dunblane Community Council to reopen its loos. He kindly credits the success to the health issues Gill highlighted in a presentation at Unite the Union some while back together with the accompanying handout which has been incorporated into Unite guidance. Health and the effects on local people rather than tourism he thinks were the reasons for the success. Congratulations Mick!

WHAT A LOT OF RUBBISH! The Cleanzine editorial recently [14/7] highlighted the amount of rubbish left at the roadside and the cost of clearing it all up. The article reports that Highways England had a ‘litter strategy’ to try to educate motorists on the problems of discarding litter. After all not only does it look awful but it can be hazardous to humans as well as wildlife. However it seems that collection rates have had to be increased ‘with 139,952 bags filled between 2015 and 2016’. We are all being urged to keep a bag in our vehicle and take our rubbish home with us and why not? However using the roadside as a toilet is not so easy to address as needing the loo is not a choice! This is something that is also hazardous and requires attention – fast! But imposing a fine is NOT the answer.

MORE ON HEALTH: Thanks to another of our supporters Gill was encouraged to learn more about kidney infections. According to the NHS website on kidney infections dated 19 Dec 2014 [due to be updated this year], 1 in 830 people per year get an infection – and women are 6 time more likely to get a kidney infection than men. An interesting blog <> suggests that lorry drivers are prone to kidney and bladder
infections because they’re sitting a lot. In addition the lack of toilets encourages the use and reuse of bottles for peeing but these can harbour germs which in turn leads to infection if not kept scrupulously clean. TTUK has not been able to find the number of drivers who contract kidney infections but the danger through the lack of toilets is ever present!

ACTIONS ON HEALTH! The DfT, RHA and HSE are keen to learn what excuses are given to drivers who are refused access to toilets. TTUK is working with these organisations who are now taking this scenario seriously so your input is vital. TTUK already has a list of ‘evidence’ but before passing this on [no names will be included] an update from drivers would be appreciated. So do tell us about any ‘excuse’ you’ve been given, especially this year but earlier too. You can post it on the TTUK facebook page, send a message or email Gill directly.

SNACK VAN + TOILET? TTUK is investigating the possibilities. Reaction from the first snack van owner approached was very positive. As with many things life ain’t that simple and there are various aspects of this which require solutions but it’s a good start.


Next issue of the Truckers’ Toilets UK newsletter will be August 2016

Gillian Kemp
@atoileteer [Twitter]


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