Why Whitehall must step up to the challenge of cross-Channel disruption

 

Open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport

It was another frustrating weekend last week for residents and businesses in Dover, Folkestone and Ashford, cut-off from the rest of the world by gridlocked local roads, causing yet more damage to both the local and national economy.

The impact is also felt by neighbouring areas, such as Canterbury and Thanet, with serious consequences for Kent’s vitally important tourism and visitor economy.

Thousands of tourists and freight operators experienced hellish journeys through Kent, with increasing needs for critical aid and welfare.

But this is a bigger problem than Dover and Folkestone. It’s damaging the whole UK economy and Britain’s global reputation.

As a nation we are reliant on highly efficient and effective cross-Channel services; nowhere can match the capacity of the short straits’ crossings from Dover and Folkestone and which remain the first choice for both domestic and international travellers and hauliers.

They are an essential part of our national infrastructure and need to be acknowledged as such.

But the system is fragile. Any disruption to services quickly escalates out of control. And it is local communities, businesses and tourism across Kent that bear the brunt of these increasingly frequent events.

If we want to enjoy holidays abroad, export our goods, and welcome in-bound tourists and trade in return, the government must act and produce a long-term solution. 

  1. To invest in Kent’s road network, including but not limited to, dualling the A2 from Lydden to Dover along with improvements to Brenley Corner, and the Whitfield and Duke of York roundabouts
  2. To develop additional border facilities supported by a network of lorry parks throughout the country
  3. To create “smart” travel corridors and efficient borders through new technology
  4. To improve access and capacity for rail freight and high-speed passenger trains.

This will take time. So, in the interim, we are calling on the government to provide greater resources to the Kent Resilience Forum and its partners so they can more effectively manage disruption on Kent’s roads and extend welfare facilities.

The challenge will just get bigger if the government ignores the issue. Next year’s planned introduction of the Entry Exit System which requires biometric checks is set to put our County at the forefront all over again.

The clock is ticking and the time to act is now!

Signatories:

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, Leader of Dover District Council

Cllr David Monk, Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council

Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, Leader of Canterbury City Council

Cllr Mike Baldock, Leader of Swale Borough Council

Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader of Thanet District Council

Cllr Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council

Matthew Scott, Kent Police & Crime Commissioner

Deirdre Wells OBE, Chief Executive, Visit Kent

John Keefe, Director of Public Affairs, Getlink (Eurotunnnel)

Posted on 29 July 2022

Email: pr@dover.gov.uk

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