04 MAY 2018

Dover customs operators say Brexit can work

Customs clearance operators at the Port of Dover say Brexit can work – as long investment takes place "rather quickly". Motis Freight Services Agency general manager Tim Dixon told me an "IT-based solution" with "pre-notification", "trusted trader schemes" and checks away from the port can prevent traffic backlogs.

His views echo my own. I have written several papers detailing what's needed to prevent long queues around the Channel ports after Brexit. Mr Dixon recently showed me around the Motis facilities at the Western Docks. Major resurfacing work is taking place and will be completed in the next fortnight, increasing the site's lorry parking provision from 300 to 330 spaces.

Mr Dixon said: "I do think Brexit is workable. No-one wants to see lorries backed up for miles and that's me speaking as a Dovorian. It's going to come down to an IT-based solution, and what we do with documentation.

"But as long as the right people are speaking to each other, as they are starting to, we can continue the flow of traffic through the port, which is what everyone wants to see."

Motis has also recently upgraded its facilities for drivers. Its port building now has showers, a laundrette, a restaurant/café, a cinema room, an ATM and charging points. Mr Dixon said the firm is looking to add more sites and focussing on a number of areas across Kent, particularly along the M2/A2 corridor.

Lorry parking is one of the things the Government should be investing in now. No matter what deal is struck with the EU, it is needed and has been for years. The few places we do have like Motis are full every single day. Meanwhile lorries are often dangerously parked in lay-bys, causing a nuisance for drivers and residents.

But lorry parking won't meet all of Brexit's border challenges. At Dover we should use the camera technology we already have and link it up with the new customs IT system. We should start getting more firms signed up as trusted traders. The new Lower Thames Crossing must be taken forward at speed, and the M2/A2 corridor should be upgraded and dualled all the way to Dover.

But the Government needs to get on with it. I've been making this case every chance I get in Parliament – and will keep fighting for investment here at the Dover frontline.


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Charlie Elphicke

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