'Lorry parking here is worst in the world'

A former haulage boss says lorry parking provision in Kent is worse than anywhere else in the world. Geoffrey Cave-Wood, who spent 60 years in the transport sector and worked for the International Road Transport Union, believes facilities in Africa put the UK to shame.

Lorry parking in Kent has been deemed the worst in the world Lorry parking in Kent has been deemed the worst in the world

Laybys across the county are continually clogged up at night and verges are constantly used as makeshift toilets.

Two months ago, KentOnline reported on the HGV problem on the Wincheap Industrial Estate, with 98% of truckers refusing to cough up penalties dished out for parking illegally. “I have spent my whole life in the transport sector and watched as facilities for drivers have deteriorated over the years,” Mr Cave-Wood said.

“Having driven through the Middle East, Far East and Africa I can say there are better driver parking facilities in Egypt than the UK.

We should be ashamed. “They’ve obviously got a lot more land but the fact we’re seriously lacking toilet facilities for drivers is terrible.

Geoffrey Cave-Wood back when he was an international haulage boss Geoffrey Cave-Wood back when he was an international haulage boss

“Fifty years ago in the UK, truck stops were not luxurious but they were available.” As covered on KentOnline recently, ministers have warned there could be a worst-case scenario of 7,000 truck-long queues in Kent after the Brexit transition period ends.

The chaos would occur if hauliers fail to prepare for changes to customs rules, a leaked letter from Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove revealed. Mr Cave-Wood said: “We have problems here unlike anywhere else and I’m sure it’ll only be worse in January after Brexit. “Consecutive governments have allowed land that could have been used for parking be built on.

The HGV parking problem in Wincheap The HGV parking problem in Wincheap

“In Germany, parking places are full but you still don’t see people parking in places where they shouldn’t.

“And, as like in France, truck parking is a requirement on every industrial estate.” To no avail, Mr Cave-Wood says he has suggested to Kent MPs that permanent lockable portaloos should be installed on the A20 and M20 for use when Operation Stack is implemented. But the retired transport boss says facilities in the UK will continue to be the worst on offer.

“If you had a factory without a toilet, you’d be shut down,” he said. “Not one of us should complain about trucks unless we never buy anything – from food to TVs. “The problem is not the fault of the transport operators and their drivers but Highways England, planners and supermarkets.

“The whole shooting match results in permanent breaches of all health and safety legislation.

‘If you had a factory without a toilet, you’d be shut down…’

“Lorry parks are absolutely chock-a-block so there is nowhere to go. “And drivers don’t want to be paying GBP25 to stay overnight. “For some, that’s more than they earn in a day – meaning they have no option but to park on a trading estate.”

Plans for a large holding area near Brenley Corner off the A2 were hoped to address the issue in east Kent but the project was dropped earlier this year. In Sevington, work is continuing on a 66-acre post-Brexit lorry park as the government prepares for disruption at the end of the transition period in December. From January 1, the northern section of the development will initially be used for HMRC customs checks, with the southern part close to Church Road becoming a holding area for up to 1,500 lorries in case there are delays at the ports.

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