Crunch talks on how a "no deal" Brexit could impact East Kent were held at the Department for Transport this week. I organised the meeting on Tuesday (November 27th) with Roads Minister Jesse Norman so the Port of Dover and Kent Police could raise their concerns.
I told the Minister that the Department's priority must be to stop port traffic from causing gridlock in Dover town, and also raised his serious concerns about proposals to use Manston Airport as a lorry park. And I reiterated the need to ensure Kent Police have the funding required to handle any traffic queues in the event of no deal.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, Port of Dover chairman Richard Everitt, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott and Kent County Council leader Paul Carter also attended the meeting. We were also joined by Cllr Nigel Collor – a district councillor who also represents Dover Town at KCC – and Highways England's John Kerner, who is in charge of "Operation Brock".
The port's finance director Shaun Pottage and operations manager Emma Ward, along with Kent Police's assistant chief constable Peter Ayling and Department officials, were there as well.
We discussed the plans for the contraflow system between Junctions 8 and 9 of the M20, known as "Operation Brock". The proposals would create 2,000 on-road lorry holding spaces on the coastbound carriageway. It was confirmed that plans to erect steel barriers along the Londonbound carriageway for the contraflow will go ahead in February, deal or no deal.
Other traffic management options in the event of queues at the Channel Ports include Manston, Dover TAP and parking lorries on the M26. I suggested that the Dover TAP cameras could enable an automatic number place recognition system to be used – so any trucks caught skipping the queues would be sent all the way to the back or hit with fines.
I called this summit in order to get everyone around the table so the Minister could hear the very real concerns we have here in Dover about stopping our town from being gridlocked. If the EU seeks to cause queues at Dover and Calais in the event of no deal – we need to make sure our local roads are kept clear. People need to be able to get to work and carry on as normal.
The Minister was left in no doubt of the serious concerns many of us have about using Manston Airport as a lorry park. We need a clear plan for Kent – and to make sure our police and authorities have the resources they need to keep traffic flowing.
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