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White paper stirs greasy spoon plea

01 January 2000
White paper stirs greasy spoon plea

By Katherine Burke

Motorway service areas (MSAs) may come under Government pressure to lay on breakfast vouchers and special economy menus for truck drivers.

The Highways Agency is examining ways to improve truck-stop facilities in England, in line with the transport White Paper.

"Some MSAs give truck drivers a voucher for refreshments if they stay overnight," said a Highways Agency spokeswoman. "Maybe restaurants could also have a special menu for truck drivers which might be slightly cheaper."

Since the Highways Agency owns the land for only about half of the 52 MSAs across England, it cannot force companies to improve catering facilities.

But it plans to issue guidelines in December to all motorway restaurants, and plans to tighten the clauses in leases to ensure that parking, toilets and refreshment are more geared to hauliers' needs.

The Road Hauliers Association (RHA) wants a revival of roadside "greasy spoon" cafés, whose numbers have dwindled from about 500 at the beginning of the 1980s to 100.

"The problem is that large chain restaurants are taking over from the smaller independent cafés and some are refusing to serve hauliers," said a spokesman.

Neither the transport department nor trucking chiefs seem much interested in the nutritional value of the food being served, despite the high early death-rate among lorry drivers.

"I don't think healthy food would be a priority," said the RHA spokesman.

"Lorry drivers die young because of the stressful nature of the business, they spend a lot of time immobile in a cab - not because of what they eat."

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