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BIFA president In the driving seat

[ October 27, 2021   //   ]

With National Lorry Week being celebrated amidst one of the worst driver shortages that anyone can remember, on 25-31 October, BIFA president Sir Peter Bottomley revealed that he knows more than most of us about trucks, and the freight industry in general.

Sir Peter, who has a day job as MP for West Worthing reveals: “Before embarking on my political career, I worked as a lorry driver including an interesting summer unloading trucks in Melbourne’s docks.

“At 18, I worked on a freight ship from Brisbane to Liverpool mainly as the cook’s assistant. At University I was in charge of a Walls Ice Cream Van for two summers and graduated to a seven-tonne truck delivering ice cream across south London.”

Then: “In my late 20s, as marketing director of a small light-engineering company, I would routinely relieve the specialist driver by taking export consignments to Millwall Docks on a Sunday night, sleeping in the cab, dropping the load and driving back to Watford so that the regular driver could take over the long runs.”

But in 1975 he successfully stood for Parliament and in 1986 went on to become the Minister of Roads and Traffic under Margaret Thatcher, responsible for the testing and supervision of drivers, and the supervision of freight operators through the traffic commissioners.

Sadly, for any fleet manager looking to recruit an extra pair of hands, after 15 years in Parliament he gave up his heavy goods vehicle licence. More than most, though, he appreciates the importance of the industry in keeping the UK ticking over. “The importance of the entire interconnected network of logistics and freight has been thrust into the limelight over the last two years. Let us hope many more will recognise and celebrate just how much we rely upon this important industry.

“During this National Lorry Week let us give a cheer for every individual who makes our freight industry carry on working.”

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