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UK and Scottish governments take action to ensure food reaches shops

By Scott Maclennan

MSP Edward Mountain.
MSP Edward Mountain.

News that both the Scottish and UK governments would take joint action to ensure vital food and drink supplies make it to stores has been welcomed by Highland MSP Edward Mountain.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, supermarkets and food stores have seen shoppers empty shelves of vegetables, meat and other items which created significant concerns about the reliability of accessing some food stuffs.

Last night, the UK secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps confirmed the government is ready to help “supermarkets respond to COVID-19.”

To do that, he authorised “a temporary relaxation of the drivers’ hours rules to help deliver vital goods to stores across the UK” on the basis that driver welfare must not be compromised.

The relaxation applies solely to drivers involved in the supply of food and other essential products to supermarkets and not to those delivering directly to consumers.

Mr Mountain questioned the Scottish cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity at the rural economy committee Michael Matheson who confirmed the changes would also take effect in Scotland

Mr Matheson said: “At a Scottish Government level, through the chief planner, we’ve also contacted local authorities to ask them to relax their planning restrictions which are around the delivery times into local stores by heavy goods vehicles, which local authorities have agreed to take forward as well.

“That will help to relax the period in which they can actually carry out these deliveries in some of our towns and cities across the country.”

Mr Mountain said: “I am pleased that following the UK Government’s decision to relax driving hours for lorry drivers, the Scottish Government is also working with local authorities to relax restrictions on delivery times.

“This twinned approach should help the flow of food and drink back into our supermarkets at a time of increasing demand. It is important however that these measures are used sensibly and lorry drivers are not put at risk through overworking.”

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