Published: 06:00, 29 August 2020
A lorry driver sets up a barbecue next to two illegally parked trucks - one with a penalty notice slapped in its windscreen.
He’ll likely stay the night on the Wincheap Industrial Estate in Canterbury before heading off on the latest leg of his journey, unbothered by any fine inflicted by the council’s traffic wardens.
Because of the 148 tickets handed to drivers of foreign-registered lorries on the estate this year, just three have been paid.
Many parts of the industrial park are subject to overnight parking bans, double yellow lines and weight restrictions for stationary vehicles, but the rules are continually ignored.
This year’s figures, which the frustrated council says are evidence of a “tricky problem to resolve”, further prove the issue plaguing the estate.
Twenty-nine lorries were counted parked up in just one night last year , and fed-up business owners say they continually see lorry drivers using the hedged perimeter as a toilet.
With 98% of fined truckers refusing to pay up, Wincheap ward councillor Nick Eden-Green (Lib Dem) says a new system should be put in place at the border.
“It strikes me as being an incredibly simple thing to deal with,” he said.
“Given all the ferries and Eurotunnel use an ANPR [automatic number plate reading] system, they could be given details of any outstanding fines not paid by the driver.
“Whether it be from the Dartford Crossing, London congestion charge or the Wincheap Industrial Estate, they could be stopped from travelling until they have gone to a booth and paid the fines.
“I think it could simply be done.
“The technology is there, so why not join up the loops and put it in place?”
“I, however, don’t entirely blame the lorry drivers as they legally have to stop and there is little official provision for them.
“While using the estate as a toilet is grossly unhygienic and disgusting, councils need to supply more places for them to go. “
Plans for a large holding area near Brenley Corner off the A2 were hoped to address the woes in east Kent but the project was dropped earlier this year.
City council spokesman Rob Davies said: “We recognise the importance of this issue for residents and businesses in Wincheap.
“The number of fines issued this year has inevitably reduced due to the pandemic, when enforcement work was severely restricted for several months, but even so, 148 penalty charge notices shows we take the matter seriously and visit Wincheap regularly.
“Collecting payments from foreign-registered vehicles is very difficult, but we use a specialist enforcement agency to try and retrieve the outstanding amounts and will pursue these as much as we can.
“It is, though, a tricky problem to resolve, and a proposal to create a lorry park on the Swale side of the district border has now been dropped.
“We will continue to send our enforcement officers to the estate and do what we can to improve the situation for residents and businesses.”
Between February 2018 and March 2019, the council handed out 558 fines to foreign vehicles on the industrial estate but, again, almost all remained unpaid.
Wincheap councillor Derek Maslin has suggested turning the nearby park and ride into an overnight lorry park to help address the long-running issues, but the idea has been given short shrift by officials.
Elsewhere in east Kent, a post-Brexit lorry park, catering for 2,000 HGVs in Ashford, is due to be ready come the end of December.