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When will the M20 contraflow between Ashford and Maidstone end?

By Paul Francis

Kent politicians have renewed their concerns that restrictions on the M20 are to stay in place at least until October.

The Brexit minister Stephen Barclay, who visited the county this week, said the contraflow London-bound between Ashford and Maidstone would remain until a Brexit deal has been agreed.

The news has dismayed both MPs and councillors who say the scheme - a key part of Operation Brock - is causing disruption for residents, commuters and businesses.

WATCH: M20 barriers remain in place until Brexit deal is done

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said Kent MPs had raised the matter with ministers about the continuation of the contraflow on the M20 even though Operation Brock was not in place.

"Unfortunately while our views were considered they were not agreed to," she said.

"It is a desperate shame for those who use the M20 every day as well as those who live in the A20 corridor that there will be disruption for some months to come."

Speaking on the latest edition of Paul On Politics on KMTV, Ashford councillor Jo Gideon said: "There is a practical solution that could be considered.

"We are all frustrated that there are two lanes that you can drive along and there is a third lane sitting empty that could be used and it would be a relatively simple matter even if we still had to have the 50mph speed limit."

Ashford Labour councillor Brendan Chilton echoed her comments, adding: "We are clearly not going to be leaving until at least October so why should people of Kent have to put up with traffic chaos until then?

Operation Brock is to remain in place until at least October 31
Operation Brock is to remain in place until at least October 31

"There's no reason why that middle lane can't be temporarily opened.

Newly-elected Liberal Democrat MEP Anthony Hook, who is a Kent county councillor said: "It does seem very odd - it can feel very unsafe if you are in a car and a lorry passes by you.

"This is an example of a wider problem in the country where Whitehall makes these decisions rather than at a local level."

Heidi Allen, of the Freight Transport Association which represents hauliers, said: "We are calling for the UK to leave the EU with an agreement in place, to allow for an orderly departure from the EU with the necessary transitions in place.

"The contraflow system brings into sharp focus the need for a permanent solution to Operation Brock, sooner rather than later."

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

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