Operation Stack/Lorry Parking in Kent

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:13 pm on 25th October 2017.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport) 4:13 pm, 25th October 2017

I entirely endorse that view. That is a separate and related matter, but it is not an alternative—it is a supplement to the fundamental issue that my hon. Friend has raised. In that respect, I want to look at whether we can consider an easier process for the incremental growth of lorry parking, both in Kent and more widely across the country. There is a thirst for additional lorry parking at a number of locations, and providers are willing to consider incremental growth. It does not seem to me that when there is no obvious objection—from adjacent properties or about the effect on local amenities—growth should not be accelerated. Again, I am happy to talk to my colleagues across Government to try to bring that about.

With respect to Kent, my hon. Friend knows that we are putting into place a “clamp first” policy, for which I take most of the credit but not all, and which we will trial from the end of this month. Colleagues across Kent complained about some of the illegal parking that was taking place and the difficulties that local authorities in Kent were having in deterring and indeed punishing those involved in such parking. Indeed, I met local authorities to discuss that. People park in the most extraordinary places: on slip roads to service stations, in small villages, by people’s driveways, in lay-bys and so on.

Given that about 88% of traffic going to Europe both through the tunnel and by ferry is foreign, it does not seem unreasonable to assume, as the Road Haulage Association has told me, that the vast majority of those who park illegally are foreign, too. Collecting fines from people who were going to far-off places is not straightforward, so we will trial the “clamp first” policy—but if we have such a policy, we must have lorry parking so that people can park legally. We are now back to our original proposal, which is subject to the judicial review, and my point about additional parking. It is not good enough to clamp people if they cannot park somewhere safely, securely and legally.