Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following message about Brexit which may or may not happen on 31st October. Please Read More for further information.
Notwithstanding continuing government negotiations with the EU about a Brexit deal, and legislation intended to compel the government to seek a delay to Brexit if there is no deal, Brexit planning at both a Kent-wide and Maidstone level is focused on preparing for a day one no deal Brexit at the end of this month.
This note summarises the current status of Maidstone’s preparations.
MBC continues to liaise with the Kent Resilience Forum co-ordination groups. Officers attended Exercise Lundy on 11 September along with around 200 other officials from around Kent, with the objective of exploring and challenging the current Operation Fennel Plan for serious congestion on the road network.
Locally, a group of key officers, led by the Chief Executive, meets weekly to review arrangements. The Chief Executive is also our designated Brexit Lead Officer.
Operation Fennel embraces all the arrangements to address potential traffic disruption, including Brock M20, Manston and the M26. Brock M20 was activated in March 2019 and can be brought into use again for coast-bound traffic given 18-24 hours notice. If a spontaneous incident takes place, the authorities would have to revert to Operation Stack.
Manston is available if the Operation Brock queuing area fills up.
One of the potential issues identified in March 2019 was the lack of enforcement powers to ensure that the Operation Brock arrangements operate as planned. The Department for Transport has consulted on an enhanced enforcement regime and the necessary legislation is expected to complete its passage through parliament this week.
One of the factors likely to cause delays at the Channel ports is lack of trader readiness for border controls. The government has therefore established six locations (five in Kent) as transit sites, which among other things will allow customs declarations to be checked before freight reaches the Channel. These are sited at Ashford, Ashford Stop 24, Dover Western Docks, Manston and Ebbsfleet. There is obviously the potential for disruption in the neighbourhood of these transit sites, but this shouldn’t affect Maidstone directly as none are located in the borough.
Business continuity planning
Individual service managers have updated their business continuity arrangements and have mapped out where their staff are based in order to ensure that front-line services can continue to be staffed in the event of severe transport disruption. We tested arrangements for working from home for a second time on 2nd October. This confirmed that this is a workable solution.
Arrangements for waste collection are a top priority given the risks to the service arising from traffic disruption. We are working to ensure that business continuity plans have been updated accordingly.
There is a Brexit page on our website which will be updated regularly and contains a link to the #BrexitKent twitter account. It will be updated to include FAQs which will address queries and offer signposting as to who to contact with specific queries. We have set up an e-mail address to collate information about Brexit related issues – BrexitTeam@Maidstone.gov.uk . Queries to this e-mail address will be signposted towards the appropriate location for specific issues and it will be monitored 24 hours a day by the Communications team. In addition, queries about Brexit will be referred by our general switchboard to the Brexit contact in the Communications team.
Arising from the risk of drivers becoming stranded in the event of severe traffic disruption, we are updating our welfare arrangements. This includes ensuring that staff are available to staff rest centres and will physically be able to reach the rest centres themselves. We are liaising with the Kent Resilience Forum, who have a working group addressing this issue, on welfare arrangements.
Environmental Health – Our officers are able to provide advice to traders about the correct certification required for exports. The service stands ready to provide support to other Kent authorities with ports but will nevertheless ensure that key service levels locally are maintained locally.
Data – GDPR legislation will continue to apply after Brexit. There are issues arising from handling of EU data which we are reviewing but it is unlikely that there will be material impacts for the Council.
We are continuing to refine our preparations for Brexit, planning on the basis of a day one no deal scenario. This work is being given a high priority, with involvement from staff at all levels. I will continue to update Residents about progress as the projected date for Brexit approaches.
Finally, MBC will be arranging a briefing session for Parish Council representatives from Hollingbourne and Stockbury. If any community leader from the non-parished areas wants to participate, please let me know.
MBC Cllr for North Downs Ward (Cons.)
Pictured below is Councillor Garten.
Hollingbourne is close to Junction 8 of the M20 which is at one end of Operation Brock which may see 2000 lorries parked on the coast bound side of the M20 awaiting Customs at Dover and Eurotunnel if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union. The London bound side from Junction 9 to Junction 8 and beyond almost to Junction 7 will be used for a contraflow system. Although there is a 50 mph speed limit accidents already happen daily and there are no refuges. Incidents usually result in traffic being diverted via the A20 which can lead to traffic problems over the local area. No services are planned for drivers stuck on the M20.
The Parish Council has been previously advised that traffic problems may cause the weekly bin collections to be suspended and that householders will have to take their rubbish to a central collection point which is yet to be specified. Other services could also be affected.
Parliament is due to sit on Saturday 19th October to consider the possible options for Brexit which presently seem to be leaving the EU on 31st October with no deal and on WTO terms with the loss of EHIC cards and other benefits, leaving with a deal that can be put together over the next week, asking the EU for a further extension to which all 27 members would have to agree, or revoking Article 50 which would at least bring an end to the present uncertainty although it may disappoint many but please others. Hollingbourne Parish Council has no influence in this situation and any comments should be sent to our local MP, Mrs Helen Whately at firstname.lastname@example.org Apart from rescinding Article 50 to allow the UK to stay in the EU and the Customs Union in particular it is likely that the other options will mean that Operation Brock on the M20 may become a more or less permanent feature of local life.