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Truckers litter at A258 Ringwould bay picked up by owners of burger van Busy Bees

By Beth Robson

Sandwich packs, fag ends, engine oil and lorry parts are among the trawl of truckers' litter that owners of a burger van have to collect every day.

Sleeping lorry drivers - some discarding rubbish and bags of human waste - are a regular blight for the owners of Busy Bees.

Every morning owner Karen Westwood dreads what she will be met with when partner Dave Brock tows her snack wagon onto her pitch at Ringwould.

Karen Westwood never knows what they'll be faced with when they arrive each morning
Karen Westwood never knows what they'll be faced with when they arrive each morning

Their 7am start, when she should be sizzling bacon, can be delayed by unpleasant brushes with foreign drivers - one of whom even told them to come back at 10am which would have amounted to half a day’s missed trading.

Ms Westwood, who has had the business for three years in June, said as vendors they are obliged to keep the area clean.

That means they are regularly picking up truckers’ rubbish, cigarette ends and foreign marked booze bottles.

They also have to wake them up to ask them to move on from the catering van’s allocated spot at the widest part of the bay so they don’t breech their terms of trading and so there is enough space for pedestrians and cyclists to pass uninterrupted. This communication can lead to confrontation.

Dave Brock clears up rubbish from the bay to keep the area clean for Busy Bees' customers
Dave Brock clears up rubbish from the bay to keep the area clean for Busy Bees' customers

The biggest insult is when Mr Brock does the litter picking because Ms Westwood can’t where she is a food handler.

While I was there he was found a bag of excrement stuffed in a bush further up the roadside bay. He then had to remove it with his litter pic and hygienically discard of it well away from the food outlet.

“They are not all foreign drivers but most of them are,” said Ms Westwood.

“The English drivers are a lot more understanding and they tend to be more considerate and park further down from here. But most of the time it’s foreign drivers. They can be rude. I have never seen them be aggressive myself but Dave has. More than anything it’s the rubbish they leave behind that gets me.”

Cigarettes and sandwiches which are thought to have been thrown from parked up truckers' windows
Cigarettes and sandwiches which are thought to have been thrown from parked up truckers' windows

Sandwich packs, engine oil and Polish vodka are often among the trawl. And I saw a bag of six foreign beer bottles during my visit on Thursday.

“It’s concerning that they then go off and drive for hours after drinking all that alcohol,” she added.

“We do know the rubbish is not just from lorry drivers. Other drivers pull over here or throw litter out. One time Dave came back with condoms and a finger of fudge.”

Mr Brock added: “One time there was pile of cigarette butts on the floor where a driver had been dropping them out of his window. I knocked on the window to talk to him. ‘Not mine,’ he said.”

A couple of people used to clear litter from the roadside, but this has stopped, meaning the task falls on them more than ever to keep the area clean.

Siting the snack wagon each morning can be difficult when lorries are parked there
Siting the snack wagon each morning can be difficult when lorries are parked there

Drivers’ vehicle registration plates help them identify the country of origin. The most problematic was a Croatian vehicle.

A lot of the time, the couple will be told ‘My taco, my taco’ where the drivers claim their tachograph, a digital drive time monitor, has told them they are due a statutory road break.

According to gov.uk drivers are limited to nine hours a day behind the wheel which can be increased to 10 hours twice a week - totalling 56 hours in a six-day week.

Both the government and trade bodies like the Road Haulage Association (RHA) agree there is a national shortage of parking for lorry drivers. Clamping in some areas has led to further displacement.

The Government’s National Lorry Parking Survey acknowledges that rapid action is needed and that local authorities could be doing more to alleviate the problem, yet the document, published last year, offers no ‘call to action’ about how to do that best.

Lorries are parking so close to where the business operates
Lorries are parking so close to where the business operates

Paul Mummery of the RHA agrees with complaints from drivers that they are stuck between a rock and a hard place being legally obliged to stop but sometimes “there’s no room at the inn” when they attempt entry at the lorry parks, he says.

Although he acknowledges the wider problem created when some leave litter and human waste behind where there are no bins or portaloos in lay-bys, he says, “they have to go off and find somewhere safe to stop and sleep.”

He added: “There are half a million in the UK and lots more in Europe coming over.

“People know they are a part of life, they do keep the economy going and keep shops stocked, but we need to work out where we are going to put them.

“There are just not enough safe and secure parking areas in Kent for truckers who need to park up”

Rubbish from one morning's trawl includes a box branded Scania - a make of lorry
Rubbish from one morning's trawl includes a box branded Scania - a make of lorry

Mr Brock at Busy Bees says the sealing off lay-bys along the A2 and the effects of heavy queuing and Operation Stack particularly exacerbates the problem for them, because drivers head down the A258 until they find a place to stop.

He also disagrees with those, such as the Dover MP Charlie Elphicke who criticise the use of the former Manston Airport as a stand-by lorry park, saying the vehicles “have to go somewhere.”

A spokesman for Dover District Council said: “We continue to work hard with our partners to keep our roadsides clear, and continue to arrange a series of clear ups, including recent work in this area.

“We do carry out inspections in the district, and will continue to monitor the situation.

“We continue to work closely with partners to raise awareness of issues around lorry parking, and to seek solutions on a national level from Central Government.

“We would urge all road users to help us by not throwing litter or leaving waste by the roadside.”

This week the KM Group launched a campaign to get Kent clean to coincide with the start of the Great British Clean.

Read more: All the latest news from Deal

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