Published: 12:01, 03 January 2016
A lorry driver has hit back at criticism of HGVs parking illegally overnight on hard shoulders and slip roads.
Mark Lindridge said people should consider the services truckers are providing to the economy – especially at this time of year – and have more sympathy for truckers unable to find spaces in designated parking areas.
Earlier this year it was highlighted how certain areas of the A2 are plagued by the problem, in particular the stretch on both sides of the dual carriageway at the Gravesend East (Cobham services) junction.
Lorries are regularly parked bumper-to-bumper along the London-bound and coast-bound slip roads, despite the fact there is a lorry park just yards away opposite Nell’s Cafe.
Police have also cracked down on lorry drivers flouting the rules in other parts of Kent, including the M20.
Huge debate about the issue was sparked on Facebook when it was reported police and Highways England patrol officers issued 30 fines in one night, with several vehicles immobilised until payment was made.
While many supported the clampdown on the HGVs flouting road laws, others said more needed to be done to tackle the problem.
Suggestions included opening up the land formerly occupied by an Esso fuel station and Little Chef restaurant on the coastbound side between Nell’s Cafe and the Inn on the Lake hotel.
Mr Lindridge, 47, of Vanessa Walk, Gravesend, has been a lorry driver for 15 years. The father-of-two said: “I think it’s an excellent idea to use that bit of land to park on.
“You can’t always park at Nell’s Cafe as up to a dozen cars use it to park there during the day and catch the coach to London, so you’re stuffed there as well.
“The trouble is that if you stop the parking at the services and by Nell’s Cafe, you could start pushing the lorries into town and that could cause even worse problems for everyone.”
The evening after the police clampdown, the coastbound carriageway hard shoulder at Gravesend East had been coned off by Highways England.
“I’m not trying to say lorry drivers are angels as a lot of them can be arrogant, but, you know, give us a break sometimes" - Mark Lindridge
However, HGV drivers appeared to be aware of this as a greater number than usual were parked along the hard shoulder leading from Bluewater and on to the A2 at the Merry Chest Cafe.
Mr Lindridge added: “I’m not trying to say lorry drivers are angels as a lot of them can be arrogant, but, you know, give us a break sometimes.
“Drivers hate parking at places like that on the side of the road but sometimes you have no choice.
Our tacographs are monitored daily and if we have any infringements we could lose our jobs.
“Everything in shops, schools and restaurants comes from a lorry. No lorries means no food, no drink and no shopping.”