At times over the past week we have been plunged back into the worst days of Operation Stack, with the M20 closed completely between Junctions 8 and 9.
The effects of this are widespread, with many of the smaller roads on which people depend to go to work or for other essential journeys made so busy that they can barely cope. I appreciate that the disgraceful behaviour of P&O was the main cause of the problems at Dover, combined with the storms and one damaged ship which meant that freight capacity across the Channel was drastically reduced.
Nevertheless I share the anger of the many people who have contacted me about this. I have written to the Chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, who are in charge of these matters to express my concern.
The gist of my message was: “You will I am sure be aware of the effects of closing the M20 altogether. The A20 becomes completely clogged up between Junction 8 an Ashford. The A251 becomes a (very unsuitable) rat run for lorries from the M2. The effects of both of these are to make life extremely difficult for people trying to go about their daily business. Their anger has only been increased by hearing statements over the weekend about how effective the traffic management has been. Not from their point of view it hasn’t.
On Friday Kent MPs were told by the KRF that “these measures have been effective”. Speaking on behalf of the people of Ashford I would beg to differ.”
I have asked what lessons have been learned so that we do not have to go through this every time there is a problem at Dover. Operation Brock was meant to relieve us of the chaos of Operation Stack, when the M20 was closed altogether. Irritations we can cope with. Chaos is not acceptable.