Probably the biggest event of the past few days is, oddly, something that is no longer happening. The removal of the Operation Brock barriers on the M20, which I have been urging on Ministers for a few weeks now, can be seen as East Kent’s own particular step on the road back to normality.
Along with the reopened shops, gyms, and pub gardens it is another reminder that we used to live our lives in a different way, and that it is now possible to see the outlines of that life coming back. Travelling, socialising, and simply meeting people still feels slightly strange, but I suspect that won’t last long.
Of course the journey back to full normality still has a way to run and will only be smooth if the Covid numbers stay low. So far, so good, but we have seen in the past six months what can happen very quickly if we lose control, so we need to remain careful.
As for Operation Brock itself, I was asked last weekend whether the fact that the lanes set aside for lorries had never been filled meant that it had all been a waste of time. I strongly think not, as it was an insurance policy against serious disruption, and like all insurance policies it has still worked even if you never have to make a claim.
Even more importantly, we now know that the barrier can be put up and taken down over a couple of days. So when problems arise in crossing the Channel, which is bound to happen at some stage, we know that the response can be reasonably quick, and need not involve the horrible chaos of closing the M20 as used to happen under Operation Stack.
Long-term, I would like to see an upgrade of the A2 into Dover so that lorries can use the M2 as well as the M20. That may be the next battle.