Published: 12:28, 08 January 2021
| Updated: 14:25, 08 January 2021
Truckers trying to find a new Brexit lorry park are getting lost on the way - because the government is giving them the wrong postcode.
Frustrated residents living in Mersham near Ashford say about 30 lorries have arrived in the village since the 66-acre facility next to Junction 10a opened for Covid-19 testing on Monday.
VIDEO: 'Total chaos' in Mersham as truck drivers get lost in village. Footage: Kate Agrell
Council bosses say the confused hauliers - who are being sent to the lorry park from the Eurotunnel terminal near Folkestone - are losing their way due to inaccurate directions.
Instead of using TN24 0TP, which includes the entry point to the Sevington facility, HGV drivers are being told to follow TN25 6GE - an address that sends them into the village.
On the government's website, the address for the Sevington Inland Border Facility, which won't be fully operational until late February, includes the wrong postcode.
Kingsford Street resident Stewart Ross, who has lived in Mersham for 30 years, described the situation as a "fiasco".
"It's basic - even a primary school kid would get that right," he said.
"Nobody in the village has blamed the drivers - we have always thought the problem is with the authorities as they haven't got their act together.
"It seems crazy no one made sure Eurotunnel was given the correct instructions for drivers that turned up without a negative test."
Mr Ross, who used to work for the Ministry of Defence, says residents faced "total chaos" yesterday evening when eight lorries arrived in the centre of the village - including five in Kingsford Street, which is a dead-end country lane.
"Five HGVs ended up at the turning circle and, by the time they came back up, another three had arrived in The Street," he said.
"Numerous people tried phoning the police who said speak to Highways England, but we couldn't find anyone who would accept responsibility.
"In the end, several villagers and two community police officers who happened to arrive on bicycles helped them manoeuvre.
"If there hadn't been villagers there warning them that they were about to hit something, then cars would have been damaged.
"But fortunately all of the lorries got out and it is a reflection of the villagers working together to solve a problem that the authorities caused."
Since yesterday's incident, Mr Ross says no further HGVs have arrived in Kingsford Street as a highways official has now been stationed on the A20 to stop any stray lorries from turning into the village.
He added: "I didn't vote for Brexit - I have lived in Europe, I've worked in Europe and I consider myself a British-European.
"We are part of Europe but the vote has happened and what we should be doing now is getting it right.
"I still don't believe we are doing that, though... there's a lot more red tape now than we were promised."
Mr Ross believes the delayed Sevington lorry park was "never going to be delivered on time" and rubbished claims the project has been held up by heavy rain.
"It's been delayed by the fact work started in July, not the weather," he said.
"They have all these consultants working on it but I am not quite sure what they are doing."
Ashford Borough Council's deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) confirmed hauliers have been using the wrong postcode.
Yesterday evening, he said Kent Police, Highways England and Eurotunnel had been informed so the information can "feed through to hauliers".
He says ABC "continues to follow up" with the government's website manager about getting the postcode corrected.
But Kingsford Street resident Linda Arthur says the main problem is that neither of the postcodes are correct.
"The TN24 0TP is also the postcode for Nightingale Close in Sevington," she said.
"The Department for Transport has not issued a dedicated postcode for the Sevington Inland Border Facility - something it promised it would do right at the start of its community/stakeholder consultation."
Earlier this week, Cllr Bartlett said he was "impressed with how well Kent County Council has accommodated the government's demand to use the Inland Border Facility as a Covid-19 site so quickly".
Ashford residents can report Brexit-related issues on the Ashford Borough Council website.