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Pressure to remove Operation Brock contra-flow on M20 from Kent MPs

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Kent MPs have jointly pressed the government to lift the controversial M20 contra-flow as soon as possible.

The county’s Conservative MPs met with the transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris yesterday to make the case for the M20 to be restored to its usual three-lanes.

At the meeting, the MPs argued that it was no longer necessary to continue with the two lane restriction between Ashford and Maidstone on the London-bound stretch as the uncertainty over whether Brexit was going to happen had ended.

In a tweet, the Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said the MPs had a productive meeting with the minister and had “collectively pressed for an announcement soon.”

Ashford MP Damian Green said he “hoped to hear more” today, hinting there could be an announcement sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the leader of Kent County Council has also pressed for the M20 contra-flow to be lifted as soon as possible.

Cllr Roger Gough Cllr Gough said there was a strong case for lifting the scheme, among many measures that were devised to minimise delays and disruption In the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Operation Brock on the M20. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Operation Brock on the M20. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“Clearly we now have a situation where we have a bit more clarity than before; the decisive election means it is clear we will be leaving the EU and Brexit will happen at the end of January.”

The contra-flow on the London-bound carriageway between Ashford and Maidstone has been criticised by some as unsafe, with complaints that the two lanes are too narrow and the 50mph speed limit routinely ignored.

However, Cllr Gough said there was a wider issue around frictionless trade and the need to have arrangements for border checks and customs that were closely aligned to the existing ones.

“There will still be a very large volume of trade coming from Europe through Dover. There will still be some degree of greater friction than in the past and there is work to be done around the concept of “smart borders” and how trade friction is minimised.”

Highways England, which is responsible for installing and removing the barrier, said: “Ensuring the smooth flow of traffic through Kent is a top priority and we are keeping the deployment of Operation Brock under continual review.”

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