Somerset’s refuse collection firm has said it is struggling to recruit crews due to Brexit and competition from the Hinkley Point C building project.

Kier, which carries out bin collections for Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) in the Burnham-On-Sea area, said it has daily staff shortages.

Spokesman Mark Blaker from SWP says these factors are having “a growing impact” on the ability to recruit permanent staff.

The driver shortage was revealed in a report to the Somerset Waste Board, which met in Taunton on Friday.

To remedy the situation, SWP is offering new incentives to drivers, including a £300 recruitment bonus and flexible working hours.

In his written report, Mr Blaker said: “The SWP have introduced weekly conference calls with Kier directors to ensure performance does not degrade. It is also investigating opportunities for improved promotion and collaborative solutions with partner authorities.”

Mr Blaker added that the quality of refuse collections “suffers when inexperienced drivers are employed.” He said the Brexit impact centred around the weak pound and “uncertainty of future residency rights.”

SWP’s Managing Director, Mickey Green, told the Somerset Waste Board they were about 10-15 drivers short on a regular basis, describing it as a “big issue” for collections in the area. He added the HGV driver shortage reflected national trends, pointing not only to Brexit but also new EU rules about driver training.

The nuclear power station build also meant there was growing demand from the nuclear construction site and its suppliers to deliver equipment and materials, a spokesperson for SWP said.

Chairman of the Somerset Waste Board, councillor Derek Yeomans, said: “We should be advertising these jobs as a fitness course. These people are walking 10 to 15 miles a day.”

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