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Sandwich demands protection from lorries diverted to Manston during Operation Stack

The historic town of Sandwich has demanded protection from trucks diverted to Manston during Operation Stack.

It was revealed last week the government planned to use Manston Airport as a lorry park when traffic to the Port of Dover becomes congested.

The proposal involves sending the trucks on a 50-mile diversion from Junction 7 of the M20, up the A249 and then onto the M2 and A299 Thanet Way. This will mean travelling along the A256 bypass near Eastry and Sandwich.

Sandwich Mayor, Paul Graeme and Cllr MJ Holloway
Sandwich Mayor, Paul Graeme and Cllr MJ Holloway

The news was greeted with incredulity by councillors and residents who have been campaigning for years to stop lorries entering the medieval streets and causing damage.

Mayor of Sandwich Cllr Paul Graeme said: “The residents of Sandwich understand the problems caused to communities along the M20 by Operation Stack but diverting lorries to Manston will spread the problem to even more communities, and compound the threat Sandwich is already under from lorries.

“I hope we can trust the Transport Secretary to ensure there is sufficient policing at all the entrances along the A256 when Manston is used, to ensure Sandwich and the outlying villages are protected, that access in and out of the town for emergency services, businesses and residents is not hindered.”

When Patrick McLoughlin visited the town during the election campaign, he said conserving Sandwich was a Conservative priority. Now it is threatened with thousands of lorries diverted along a single-lane bypass.

Operation stack on the M20
Operation stack on the M20

M.J. Holloway, Dover district and town councillor, said: “The threat to Sandwich can’t be underestimated.”

Sandwich MP Craig Mackinlay said he was disappointed by the decision and hoped it would be short-lived.

He said: “The A256 is not up to the task of managing substantial lorry movements to Dover and we have fears our vital summer tourist trade could be affected.”

“We will not know whether it works until it is used for the first time.

“After that we can assess what damage, if any, has been caused and act and advise accordingly.

“I see the role of councillors and MPs at this time to exercise calm – not stoke up fears and anxiety.”

He said he had been assured Manston would be used on a limited basis and traffic would be marshalled by police.

Already signs have gone up along the Sandwich bypass roundabout to divert Operation Stack away from the narrow streets of the medieval town.

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