Customs stations will cause 'mayhem'

The potential for additional customs stations in Kent ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit in six weeks’ time would cause “more mayhem”, a council leader has warned. Kent County Council leader Paul Carter (Con), who today announced he would resign from office on October 17, has urged the Government to review plans to create three new custom stations at sites in Kent, including Ashford Truckstop and Ebbsfleet International station’s car park D. KCC leader says plans for truck checkpoints will cause “mayhem”

According to the county authority, around 80% of lorries coming through the Dover straits are foreign owned, with 40 per cent Polish registered.

If Britain crashes out of the European Union without a deal, these drivers would need permits to travel in and out of the UK. Cllr Carter said he feared additional custom stations based in Kent would would “create more mayhem” for freight drivers as they would be forced to turn away and search for customs stations in the county. In a letter to Secretary of State for Local Government, Robert Jenrick, the Maidstone councillor said: “It is essential that HMRC provide appropriately located sites for the right paperwork to be obtained across the country.”

The council leader’s letter has been publicised as part of a new KCC report, published earlier today, detailing the county council’s preparedness for a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

Cllr Paul Carter

The letter is one of two pieces of correspondence between the council leader and Government ministers, the other being the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman. In Cllr Carter’s second letter to the South Hertfordshire MP, dated on August 23, he again expressed his “disappointment” at the prospect of further custom stations being built in the county.

The latest KCC Brexit report, the fourth of its kind, adds: “The government is currently consulting on Special Development Orders for sites at Ashford Truckstop and car park D at Ebbsfleet International railway station. “We have raised concerns that customs station should be predominantly located outside of Kent and that the section of Ebbsfleet is less than ideal, bearing in mind the current congestion levels.”

Despite this, Kent’s council officials have described its no-deal preparations as”sensible” and “practical”, saying the county council has been ready for no-deal since the end of March. One of the main plans ready to go live at “short notice” is Operation Brock, which will enable Kent to hold up to 12,000 goods vehicles in order to minimise disruption on Kent’s road and port network.

Ebbsfleet International station’s car park D is being considered

The operation received a GBP20m boost from the Department for Transport on Monday (September 3), which includes standing up Manston Airport as a lorry holding facility, implementation of border readiness checks and increased resources to ensure drivers comply with Operation Brock.

Concluding the KCC Brexit report says: “We will continue to work closely with the government over the next eight weeks to focus national and local actions on the final arrangements that need to be put in place for a no-deal scenario.” The report will be discussed in a county council meeting at Maidstone County Hall on Thursday (September 12) from 10am.

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