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Parking ban for Kent lorry drivers set to end as news is welcomed by Unite

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A union has welcomed the decision not to extend a ban on lorry drivers in Kent parking in the county.

In January, following the end of the UK’s transition period after leaving the European Union, Kent County Council was given the power to ban lorries from parking in lay-bys and roads as fears grew about the number of vehicles which would be in the county, trying to get across the channel to France.

Government has decided not to extend a ban on lorries parking in Kent. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Government has decided not to extend a ban on lorries parking in Kent. Picture: Barry Goodwin

KCC had requested a further six-month extension to the Department for Transport with current rules set to end today, but Dft have decided not to extend the ban.

It means current restrictions will now end across most of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, Maidstone, Swale and Thanet at midnight. The only exception is a small area around Ashford, where KCC is allowed to maintain a parking ban if they wish.

Unite national officer for lorry drivers, Adrian Jones, welcomed the news.

He said: “Unite is pleased that the government has listened to the union’s grave concerns and taken the necessary action to help end the misery and overcrowding faced by lorry drivers.

“We know that the people of Kent may be concerned that lorries will be parked irresponsibly but, with a severe shortage of secure parking areas, drivers are faced with a choice of breaking the law on driving rules or finding somewhere to park.

Lorries queueing to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Lorries queueing to be the first to leave the UK after Brexit. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“In order to end the overcrowding, it is essential that an information campaign is quickly mounted to ensure that all drivers that use Kent are properly informed of where they can and can’t park legally.

“A failure to do so will result in the overcrowding problems continuing as drivers think the parking ban remains in place.

“While lifting the ban should end the immediate short-term problems, the government and Kent council need to take immediate action to ensure that when future problems occur with the Dover crossing, for whatever reason, drivers have access to decent welfare facilities while they cope with delays.”

But KCC is also separately consulting on making the temporary powers permanent. This six-month call for views closes on Saturday.

Setting out the case for extending the parking ban pilot to run to the end of January 2022, KCC stated their reasons in a letter to Rachel Maclean MP, parliamentary under secretary of State for Transport.

“Unite is pleased that the government has listened to the union’s grave concerns….”

They said the fact further customs changes have been put back to the new year, major events such as the Open Golf Championships are due to take place in Kent over the next few months, and passenger traffic has yet to return to the road network, it would be “short-sighted” not to continue.

Simon Jones, KCC’s interim corporate director and director of highways, said: “Having the ability to take action against illegally parked trucks has helped keep our roads moving, protected our local communities and played a significant role in the Kent Resilience Forum’s operational response as Kent, and the UK, adjusts to life outside of the EU.

“We have targeted those areas where unlawful lorry parking causes the biggest problems and we have received positive feedback from many residents and businesses.

“The KRF also recognised the ban would help reduce the risk of disruption in the face of new pressures, such as the expected return of tourist traffic, to Kent’s roads over the coming months.

“In light of this, while we welcome the roads’ minister’s commitment to consider future localised restrictions and use of emergency powers in the event of border issues due to customs changes in the new year, it is disappointing not to have our current broader temporary enforcement powers extended.

There has been a parking ban for lorries since January but those temporary measures will now end at midnight. Picture: Kent Police
There has been a parking ban for lorries since January but those temporary measures will now end at midnight. Picture: Kent Police

“I want to assure Kent communities we will continue to monitor lorry parking closely.

“We will also be scrutinising views received once our consultation on making the ban permanent closes, and combining our conclusions with what we have learnt over the past six months, before making a further recommendation on how to tackle the ongoing issue of unlawful HGV parking in Kent to the government.”

KCC is also continuing to discuss with DfT, and districts and boroughs in the county, the long-term issue of lorry parking in Kent and urging that solutions be found outside of the county.

Mr Jones added: “Working together with industry, businesses and residents, we want to make sure Kent is a safe and vibrant place to live and visit.”

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Business News Human Interest Kent Transport & Logistics Thomas Reeves



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