Lorry drivers in Kent 'persecuted'

Lorry drivers in Kent fined and prevented from resting due to lack of parking provisions, says Unite

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Lorry drivers in Kent are being fined and prevented from resting by Kent county council, despite parking provisions provided by authorities to deal with post-Brexit delays being ‘woefully inadequate’, Unite said today (January 15).

The union blasted Kent county council’s recently established HGV parking ban scheme and said drivers are being ‘persecuted’ for the council’s own lack of preparations.

The scheme, which was drawn up without consultation from drivers or Unite, stipulates that HGVs must return to their base of operation, if they cannot cross into the EU.

HGV lorry drivers face fines of £185, if they park for longer than 45 minutes on any road in the districts and boroughs of Ashford, Canterbury, Dover, Folkstone and Hythe, Maidstone, Swale and Thanet. This includes lay-bys, except for three single areas on the A249, A299 and A256.

While there are five designated lorry parks in Kent, most with inadequate toilet, washing, rest and food facilities, Unite is receiving driver reports of access, paperwork and operational issues, as well as congestion, at a number of these sites.

Unite has yet to hear back from Kent county council’s cabinet member for highways, Michael Payne, after writing to him about the situation on 8 January.

Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said, “HGV drivers in Kent are being persecuted for Kent county council’s, and central government’s, complete mishandling of HGV parking issues that they have had years to prepare for.

“Lorry drivers have every sympathy with Kent residents who have been severely inconvenienced by HGV backlogs in the past,” he added. “HGV drivers and Kent’s communities need a sensible system to prevent the chaos seen at Christmas happening again.

“Instead, drivers either face being fined for resting, or driving while tired out of the county or to ill-functioning lorry parks, with all the potential risks that entails for them and the public,” he continued.

“It is unacceptable that drivers are being punished with fines because of Kent county council’s and the government’s woefully inadequate provisions. Councillors and ministers must act now to ensure this unacceptable situation is rectified as soon as possible.”

By Ryan Fletcher

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