Maidstone Rural East County Councillor Shellina Prendergast was asked at last night’s Hollingbourne Parish Council meeting for details of Kent County Council’s plans to handle any traffic issues which may arise following the departure of the UK from the EU in March 2019 if there is no Customs Union. The UK Chamber of Shipping, the Road Haulage Association, and the Port of Dover have all been reported in the national media as having concerns about Kent traffic issues if there is no Customs Union which would allow vehicles to pass unchecked by Customs.
At the the present time over 10,000 trucks a day go through Dover and many others cross via the Channel Tunnel and pass Hollingbourne at Junction 8 of the M20. EU Commissioner Michel Barnier has predicted gridlock in Dover which suggests that Operation Stack on the M20 back to Hollingbourne could become a regular event because there insufficient facilities for Customs checks on every vehicle at the borders with the result that queues will develop. There is also insufficient parking space at the existing Customs posts for waiting vehicles.
When Operation Stack is in force there are traffic jams in Hollingbourne and across Kent. Councillor Prendergast promised to pursue the matter at County Hall in order to establish how the County Council will manage the situation. She was also asked to ensure that the costs of additional policing and any other related costs do not fall on the council tax payers of Kent and on those in Hollingbourne in particular. It is hoped that some more information will be available for the September Parish Council meeting on 11th September.
Following 35 days of Operation Stack in 2015 when there was traffic chaos across Kent, the Government promised to build a lorry park for 3600 vehicles at Stanton on the M20 between Folkestone and Ashford. Legal challenges have resulted in a Judicial Review at the High Court in London which will start in December 2017. Pending the result of the Review it is unlikely that any lorry park will be ready before Brexit in March 2019 or that it will be big enough as it will only be capable of parking about a third of the average daily vehicle traffic destined for France.
At the same meeting Councillor Prendergast reported that there were serious shortages of school places to the east of Maidstone including Hollingbourne because of the numbers of houses being built in the area.
Councillor Prendergast who is also a member of Maidstone Borough Council can be contacted at Shellina.Prendergast@kent.gov.uk
Pictured below is local KCC Councillor Shellina Prendergast.