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Government urged to rethink no-deal Brexit customs check points

The government has been urged to think again about plans for five customs clearance sites in Kent as part of no-deal Brexit contingency plans.

County councillors today raised misgivings about the location of the transit sites which have been earmarked by HMRC in the event that the UK leaved the EU without a deal.

Council leader Jeremy Kite. Picture: Steve Crispe
Council leader Jeremy Kite. Picture: Steve Crispe

The five include Manston airfield; STOP24 at Folkestone; the Ashford truckstop; Dover Western Docks and one of the car parks at Ebbsfleet International station.

There were particular concerns about Ebbsfleet, with the leader of Dartford council Jeremy Kite saying it would only add to the problem of traffic congestion in the area. The car park would accommodate close to 400 lorries.

Mr Kite said: “Dartford wants to play its part; we are not NIMBYs. My big concern is that it's one of too few. If there was a whole network of them around the region including Essex and other counties it could work.

"But what the government has done is put them all in Kent which is going to cause intolerable pressure on our infrastructure and on our residents and on air quality.

“We don't need Brexit to add to congestion; it is part of our daily lives already and frankly we are on a hair trigger. Anything that causes an increase in traffic even by a small amount is going to have a big impact on us.”

There were also concerns raised about the possible use of the Ashford truck stop because of ongoing work on the new Junction 10A.

Ashford councillor Paul Bartlett told the meeting that the contractors had indicated they were unlikely to be able to finish the work in time for the Brexit deadline.

He said: “There are three roundabouts that lorries will have to use to get to the site ...this is too important for us to mess up.”

Liberal Democrat MEP Anthony Hook who also represents Faversham on the county council said: “We have been told that not enough customs officers have even been recruited to man them; so we will have custom stations in the wrong place; too few of them and not enough staff. This is becoming a joke.”

KCC leader Paul Carter revealed that he had written another letter to Michael Gove pressing him to to review the plans.

Head to our politics page for expert analysis and all the latest news from your politicians and councils.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here.

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