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Eight Kent MPs rally against Highways England plan to shut M20 for a month overnight to prepare for Brexit

Almost half of all Kent MPs have rallied to change plans to shut part of the M20 overnight for a month.

Highways England plans to start overnight closures between junction eight for Leeds and nine for Ashford on Saturday, lasting until March 11.

But eight MPs are calling for the closures to finish earlier each morning, or risk a "traffic horror show".

The M20 during Operation Stack near junction eight towards Leeds Castle. Picture: Gary Browne
The M20 during Operation Stack near junction eight towards Leeds Castle. Picture: Gary Browne

Current plans will see the London-bound carriageway close from 8pm to 6am so barriers can be installed in preparation for Operation Brock.

Narrow lanes and a 50mph speed restriction will operate during the day from February 12 to March 11.

Mid Kent and Faversham MP Helen Whately co-ordinated a letter between eight MPs sent to Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan.

The letter, signed by the likes of Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Damian Green (Ashford) and Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling), is calling for roadworks to finish at 4.30am each morning, instead of 6am.

Charlie Elphicke (Dover), Michael Fallon (Sevenoaks), Roger Gale (North Thanet) and Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) have all signed the letter, which was sent today, two days before roadworks begin today.

"The late re-opening of the motorway has a knock-on impact for several hours, with motorists arriving late to work and other destinations and pupils missing lessons because of delayed buses" - the letter signed by eight MPs

Their letter reads: "The late re-opening of the motorway has a knock-on impact for several hours, with motorists arriving late to work and other destinations and pupils missing lessons because of delayed buses.

"The impact on local roads and the congestions caused by the build-up of traffic on the motorway will have a harmful impact on the local economy and businesses."

Helen Whately says she co-ordinated the letter to avoid "a traffic horrorshow":

"We know from experience how bad it can be when the M20 shuts down all night.

"Back in November there was a week of dreadful delays caused by overnight closures – with children missing lessons and businesses losing money from late deliveries and people not getting to work on time. A month of roadworks will be even worse.

"We do need to get the roads ready for Brexit and Operation Brock is an important contingency plan for disruption at the border – but 6am is too late to finish."

A Highways England spokesperson said: "We always try and strike the right balance between minimising disruption to drivers by carrying out work at the least busy times and having working windows long enough for our roadworks teams to make good, safe progress.

"Wherever possible, we reopen roads early, as soon as the shift's work has been completed. We will respond to the MP's letter in detail in due course."

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