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M20 Operation Brock barrier needs removing says Ashford MP Damian Green

An MP says his first priority after being re-elected is to get rid of the dreaded M20 barrier before the end of January.

Drivers have faced months of frustration on the London-bound stretch after the steelwork was put in place earlier this year for the controversial Operation Brock contraflow, restricting the route to just two narrow lanes.

The barrier has been in place since February. Picture: Paul Amos
The barrier has been in place since February. Picture: Paul Amos

The barrier was installed between Junction 9 for Ashford and Junction 8 for Leeds Castle in February to deal with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and enable traffic to keep moving in the event of congestion and disruption at the Channel ports.

But the likelihood of the new parliament passing the EU withdrawal bill offers the tantalising prospect of the steelwork and 50mph limit being removed.

Ashford MP Damian Green - who enjoyed a convincing victory in last week's General Election - says the barrier must be taken away by January 31, which is the date the UK is due to leave the EU.

"By the end of January, I want highways to take down the barrier between Junctions 8 and 9," he said.

"Now there is a majority in parliament for the Brexit deal, there is no need for precautions against no deal, and this barrier was one of those.

Damian Green was re-elected as Ashford's MP in the General Election
Damian Green was re-elected as Ashford's MP in the General Election

"We have removed the immediate threat of a no deal and I will be insistent on removing it if highways argues it should be left.

"We have had it all this year and there is no reason why it should stay once the legislation has gone through early in the new year."

Ashford Borough Council deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) supports Mr Green's move.

He says now is the time to remove the "ridiculous" barrier as there is no chance of a no-deal Brexit until December 31 next year - when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.

A Highways England spokesman said the authority would need a high level of confidence there is no disruption expected before removing the barrier.

The narrow lanes and 50mph limit have frustrated drivers for months. Picture: Paul Amos
The narrow lanes and 50mph limit have frustrated drivers for months. Picture: Paul Amos

"Ensuring the smooth flow of traffic through Kent is a top priority and we are keeping Operation Brock under continual review," he said.

"Any decision to remove the barrier will be taken jointly, and we are in constant contact with the government and our partners in Kent."

Bosses say the steel barrier takes four weeks to put out and four weeks to take in again.

What do you think? Comment below or email kentishexpress@thekmgroup.co.uk

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