16 OCT 2015

Why the A2 and A256 should not be used as lorry parks

The summer disruption of Operation Stack caused real damage to the Kent economy. Making sure that the traffic flows while our borders are secure matters to us all. This is why I welcome the increased border security at Calais and why I am pressing for lorry parks on the M20.

Our border at Calais used to leak like a sieve. Just five years ago we had a situation where pretty much anyone could just wander into Britain. Thanks to firm action it's now much harder to enter the country. Vigilant ships now patrol the English Channel. Strong fences ensure Calais port and Tunnel security. While sniffer dogs detect stowaways hiding in the fruit and veg. In addition there are plans for secure lorry parks in France and to encourage hauliers to have more powerful lorry security detection systems.

None of this pleases the Mayor of Calais of course. She wants to send her migrants to Dover on a one way ticket. She wants to move the border from Calais back to Dover. Thankfully our Home Secretary is working closely with the French Government. The French Government understands that the solution to the migrant problem is stronger border security across the whole of Europe and tougher action against traffickers. It is not simply shuffling the problem from one country to another as the Mayor of Calais would prefer. The answer lies in us all working together.

Stronger and safer borders will mean less disruption to our traffic too. After a summer of misery caused by Operation Stack we all know how important this is.

Yet difficulties can still occur. If not migrants then there can be other problems in the Tunnel. Ferries can be disrupted by weather or strikes at Calais. This is why I have been making the case for port alternatives like Dunkirk. And why I have argued for lorry parks on the M20.

Some say we should park lorries at Manston. While the Harbour Board and their Port Community Forum say we should turn the A2 or the A256 into lorry parks. I do not agree with these representations. These proposals would cause massive disruption in East Kent and harm our local economy. They need better to serve our community and think harder about the damage that would be done to jobs and money in Dover and Deal if such plans were implemented. I hope that we will soon see the Government bring forward plans for M20 lorry parks to ensure that if there is cross Channel disruption it does not disrupt the whole Kent economy.

We've come a long way from the days when pretty much anyone could wander into Britain. Our borders are becoming stronger and more secure. It's important to ensure that traffic flows freely on Kent roads and that we build the lorry parks we need. That way we can enjoy stronger border security and avoid suffering from Operation Stack.


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Charlie Elphicke

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