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Kent County Council reveals government 'shopping list' to avoid gridlock post-Brexit

The government is being urged to step in to pay for and run lorry parks to help avert potential gridlock in the county caused by Brexit.

And it should investigate the potential of using the Port of Ramsgate and Sheerness port to absorb some of the pressures at the Port of Dover and limit delays.

The calls come in a report setting out a series of measures Kent County Council says are needed to limit the potential impact of Brexit.

Operation Stack. Stock picture (2909301)
Operation Stack. Stock picture (2909301)

It says the county has “exceptional issues” related to Brexit that the government should recognise and in some cases be prepared to pay for up-front.

KCC leader Paul Carter said Kent faced an increased risk of ‘direct harm’ if the UK-EU negotiations did not allow for trade that was ‘as frictionless as possible.’

The report underlines concerns the council has about the potential for disruption and delays on the road network caused by the need for longer checks on HGVs at Dover and Eurotunnel.

It says the Government must step in to provide and operate publicly-funded lorry parks if commercial operators do not come forward, saying Kent should not have to deal with the “dire consequences” it endured during the prolonged implementation of Operation Stack in 2015.

The report also calls for the government to guarantee that Kent is not left out of pocket because of Brexit.

Will Dover be ready for Brexit? (2909265)
Will Dover be ready for Brexit? (2909265)

It says: “The implementation of Brexit will likely have wide ranging impacts on public services, communities and businesses on a scale that will not be faced by other areas of the country. Kent should not have to experience a disproportionate impact on economic competitiveness or financial cost to public services as a consequence of either the deal that is or is not agreed.”

It says the Government must provide “a clear approach for new border and customs arrangements by October 2018 at the latest, to provide adequate planning and preparation.”

On the risk of gridlock on the county’s roads, it calls on the government to be prepared to fund lorry parks to address “a severe shortfall” of spaces:

“The government should consider upfront national investment in infrastructure such as lorry parks and act as the operator of what would normally be considered commercial facilities if circumstance require it.”

KCC leader Paul Carter
KCC leader Paul Carter

It suggests that there is potential for additional cross channel “ro-ro” services to be introduced at Ramsgate and Sheerness, taking the pressure off Dover.

Cllr Carter said: “Understandably there is no certainty as to what the detail of the arrangements will be.

"Kent, as the major point of entry into the UK, will experience a far greater impact of any change to border and customs arrangements compared to other areas of the UK.”

“However, if negotiations do not go as planned and there are delays at the point of entry, Kent will undoubtedly be exposed to disruption.”

The report will be considered at full county council meeting next week.

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