The government minister who said Operation Stack did not cause traffic chaos on local roads has been invited to Folkestone to meet Shepway District Council and see the problems for himself.
In a response to a question at a meeting of the council on Wednesday, David Monk revealed that he had written to Ports and Shipping Minister Robert Goodwill, pointing out that as well as being a route of national and international importance, the M20 was an important local road.
“I explained that our residents face disruption and delays driving into, out of or across our district. A lot of council staff live in the Ashford, Maidstone and Medway areas and whenever Operation Stack is put in place, they have great difficulty in getting to work taking up to an hour longer to arrive.
“Depending on the severity of Stack, there are several levels of it, it can lead to gridlock around Ashford and Shepway; Local people and businesses are severely affected.”
Cllr Monk said he appreciated that the minister had a full diary but asked if it would be possible for him to come to Folkestone, which is less than an hour’s journey by train from St Pancras, while Operation Stack is in place.
“We would be pleased to meet you and take you out to show you the effects of stack.”
Cllr Monk told the meeting that he had also written to the the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, renewing the council’s concerns about the on-going problem faced by the district – one of the areas most affected by Operation Stack.
“I explained that we are working with a range of partners to develop a locally-led solution to the but that developing, implementing and paying for such a solution also needed a clear commitment from central government – given that the closure of the Channel Ports is both a local and a national problem,” said Cllr Monk.
The letter also highlighted:
• The importance of taking a broader and more strategic approach, including routing traffic along the A2/M2 corridor and not focusing only on M20 between Maidstone and Folkestone, including improvements to Brenley Corner. The provision of parking facilities to the east of Round Hill Tunnel (between Folkestone and Dover) and a holding area for lorries to the north of the Thames Crossing to capture freight traffic coming into Kent from other parts of the country.
• The need for UK Government to lobby the French Government to ensure clear and unrestricted access through the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover.