I sincerely hope that we never have to implement any of our contingency plans and that the UK has a smooth exit from Europe.
However, we don’t know whether or not that will be the case.
We must never forget the chaos that we had across half of this county in 2015.
The M20 was closed in both directions – doctors couldn’t get to hospitals, domiciliary care workers struggled to reach their clients, weddings were cancelled.
The implementation of Operation Stack and the closure of the M20 cost the Kent economy around £1.45 million a day and the UK economy
an estimated £250 million per day – and that went on for three weeks.
Kent County Council has been working very closely with the Kent Resilience Forum and all partners to try to make sure that we have robust plans in place should there be disruption at the ports for any reason that keeps traffic from flowing across the county of Kent.
We now need far more input and information from national government in how they are going to work with us.
There must be a national freight transport plan which, when necessary, can hold lorries back from coming into Kent in the first place should the need arise. We now have holding areas to take more than 10-thousand lorries before it becomes necessary to use the M26 to hold freight, which is a situation that I want to avoid as far as we possibly can.
We need the right investment from the Department for Transport in the technology, number plate recognition and enforcement powers to stop lorries cutting and running down inappropriate highways and by-ways in Kent and directed to go where they’re told.
With national government’s cooperation we can avoid the chaos that we saw in 2015.
Everyone is now waiting for the outcome of the vote on December 11.
In the meantime, the Department for Transport must share their plans at a national level with us and fast track the money through to us to invest in the necessary technology, barriers signage and vital preparation that we will need in Kent.
£20 million is not a massive amount to the government in the scale of things. These contingency plans are not just about Brexit. They should be in place to prepare the county for any eventuality – a fire in the channel tunnel, strikes and delays.
With the help and support of the government and sensible planning I believe that we can avoid the chaos of the past.
You can read the report here