The leader of Canterbury City Council has backed calls for Whitehall to tackle the problems facing east Kent in the event of a cross-Channel disruption.

Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding has added his signature to an open letter to the government which makes it clear that the district’s tourist trade is taking a huge hit when long queues form on the county’s coastal highways due to problems at the port of Dover and Eurotunnel.

The letter, also signed by Ashford Borough Council, Dover District Council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Swale Borough Council, Thanet District Council, Kent County Council, Kent’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Visit Kent and Eurotunnel, calls on the government:

  • to invest in east Kent roads, including Brenley Corner
  • develop a network of truck parking lots throughout the country
  • create “smart” travel corridors and efficient borders using new technologies
  • improve access and capacity for high-speed freight and passenger trains

The letter says: “It will take time. So, in the meantime, we call on the government to provide more resources to the Kent Resilience Forum and its partners so that they can more effectively manage disruption on Kent’s roads and expand wellness facilities.

“The challenge will only get worse if the government ignores the problem.

“Next year’s planned introduction of the entry and exit system, which requires biometric checks, should put our county back in the forefront. “The clock is ticking and it’s time to act!”

The letter stresses that the UK depends on highly efficient cross-Channel services – nowhere can match the capacity of the short Strait crossings of Dover and Folkestone – and they are an essential part of our national infrastructure and must be recognized as such. .

Cllr Fitter-Harding said: ‘I know there is an enormous amount of work required to put plans in place to keep county roads moving when very high levels of tourist and freight traffic are heading into the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel at the same time during peak periods. .

“But the system is constantly on a knife edge and issues can escalate quickly so the disruption spreads to our part of the county and directly affects our communities and businesses.

“Brenley Corner, at the junction of the M2 and A2, is over 25 miles from the Port of Dover, but when authorities use it to catch lorry drivers trying to circumvent the system and avoid operation Brock on the M20, miles of queues accumulate. the M2.

“Sitting in traffic is horrible for residents and tourists, especially in the heat of summer, and the latter will be put off visiting our historic city and stunning coastal towns, which means less money in the coffers of the companies that depend on it.”

Published: August 1, 2022