A union has welcomed the decision not to extend the ban on truck drivers from parking in Kent in the county.
In January, after the end of the UK’s transition period after leaving the European Union, Kent County Council was given the power to ban trucks from parking in parking lots and roads while fears were growing over the number of vehicles that would be in the county trying to cross the English Channel into France.
KCC had requested a further six-month extension from the Transport Department, with the current rules due to end today, but the DfT decided not to extend the ban.
This means that the current restrictions will now end in most towns 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 it wishes.
Unite’s national head of truck drivers, Adrian Jones, welcomed the news.
He said: âUnite is pleased that the government has listened to the union’s serious concerns and taken the necessary steps to help end the misery and overcrowding faced by truck drivers.
âWe know the people of Kent may fear trucks being parked irresponsibly, but, with a severe shortage of secure parking areas, drivers face the choice of breaking driving rules law or find a place to park.
âIn order to end overcrowding, it is essential that an information campaign is quickly put in place to ensure that all drivers who use Kent are properly informed of where they can and cannot legally park. .
âIf you don’t, the overcrowding issues will continue as drivers believe the parking ban remains in place.
“While lifting the ban should end immediate short-term problems, the Kent government and council must take immediate action to ensure that when future problems arise with the Dover crossing, for some reason no matter what, drivers have access to decent welfare facilities while they face delays.
But KCC also consults separately to make the temporary powers permanent. This six-month call for contributions ends on Saturday.
Making the case for extending the parking ban pilot project until the end of January 2022, the council set out its reasons in a letter to MP Rachel Maclean, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport.
“Unite is happy that the government has listened to the serious concerns of the union …”
They said further customs changes have been postponed until the new year, major events such as the Open Golf Championships are due to take place in Kent in the coming months and passenger traffic has yet to resume. the road network, it would be “short-sighted” not to continue.
Simon Jones, Interim Company Director and Director of Highways at KCC, said: âHaving the ability to take action against illegally parked trucks has helped keep our roads moving, protecting our local communities. and played an important role in the Kent Resilience Forum’s operational response as, and the UK, adapts to life outside the EU.
âWe have targeted areas where illegal truck parking is the biggest problem and have received positive feedback from many residents and businesses.
“The KRF also acknowledged that 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 roads in the coming months.
âIn light of this, as we welcome the Highways Minister’s commitment to consider future localized restrictions and the use of emergency powers in the event of border issues due to customs changes in the new year, he is disappointing that we don’t have our current broader temporary application. extended powers.
âI want to assure the communities of Kent that we will continue to monitor truck parking closely.
“We will also review the views received after our consultation on the permanent closure of the ban, and combine our findings with what we have learned over the past six months, before making a new recommendation on how to fight back. against the persistent problem of illegal heavy truck parking in Kent to the government.
KCC also continues to discuss with the DfT and the district and borough councils the long-term problem of truck parking in Kent and urges that solutions be found outside the county.
Mr Jones added: “By working with industry, businesses and residents, we want to make sure Kent is a safe and vibrant place to live and visit.”
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