Last Summer, Kent was in complete gridlock due to the chaos in France. Operation Stack stretched through the county. Goods on board lorries were lost. The UK economy lost £1 Billion. Kent MPs have been campaigning for a lasting solution to the Operation Stack problem. We collectively demanded action from Ministers. As a result, the Government agreed to invest £250 million in lorry parks to deal with this long standing problem.
These events do not seem to have been noticed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee. Last week the Labour Chaired Committee published a report saying the whole thing has been rushed. After all, we've only been campaigning on this for a decade. Thankfully Ministers have not been deflected by this poor piece of work.
Kent's MPs have been working hard to deal with the long standing transport problems we suffer from. The Government looks set to take the M20 lorry parks forward and the park will hopefully move forward to the next stage soon. The next hurdle is to make sure the TAP system stays in place. The M20 lorry parks are intended to deal with the problem of traffic on the M20. The TAP system deals with the separate problem of gridlock in Dover. I am working hard with Dover District Council to ensure that the Department for Transport grasps this.
We also need to make the TAP system a variable speed limit system. At the moment it operates as a speed trap that is there more for revenue raising than traffic safety. Kent Police make lots of money, yet it does nothing to stop accidents as all the foreign lorries simply ignore the cameras. I am meeting the Roads Minster this week to press the case for the TAP system to be given a variable speed limit. The 40mph speed limit should only apply when the TAP system is operational.
The M20 with lorry parks and an A20 with an effective TAP system will make an incredible difference. Yet that is not the whole story. We still need to get the A2 dualled. This depends on the Lower Thames Crossing. More precisely what the Lower Thames Crossing is for. Some in the DfT see it as a form of M25 relief road. That would not be the most effective use of the proposed crossing. A better use would be for the crossing to be a major route from the Channel Ports to the East and North East of England. For that the A2 will need to be dualled and that is the case I am making.
In the next five years our long standing transport woes could be brought to an end. M20 lorry parks, a sensible TAP system, the Lower Thames Crossing and a dualled A2 would make an incredible difference to the quality of life and transport in Dover & Deal.
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