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Dover bound drivers and Capel residents deserve better

July 25, 2016 9:40 AM
Aston Mannerings with gridlocked traffic running through Capel-le-Ferne

"Once again the woeful lack of traffic planning in Kent has been exposed." declares Aston Mannerings, Liberal Democrat and Capel-le-Ferne resident.

The heightened French security checks and a lack of staff at Dover had huge knock-on effects for local residents over the weekend, as roads around Dover and Folkestone became gridlocked.Queuing to reach Dover check-in on the A20 took up to 16 hours at the worst times through Saturday and into Sunday. Alhough road routes are now clear running into Dover, Police are warning of repeat issues at busy times over the summer.

As people sought to find their way to Dover avoiding main roads, those local roads also blocked, making getting from Folkestone to Dover impossible for many. Capel-le-Ferne awoke on Saturday morning to find itself cut off from Folkestone and Dover, with New Dover Road (B2011) gridlocked by traffic trying to reach the Port of Dover.

Former Kent County Councillor Tim Prater slammed the response of Kent Highways and Highways England during the disruption. Tim said:

"The information coming out from Kent Highways and Highways England throughout this weekend has been shocking. There was clearly no plan, support on the ground was too little, too late and their response - such as closing the Alkham Valley Road which many local residents had found to be the only route around the queues for local traffic - both counterproductive, badly throught through and quickly withdrawn.

"It's well known Kent County Council and Highways England don't get on, and it showed this weekend." said Tim.

"The information and support to local residents was terrible: Kent Highways' Twitter feed didn't even refer to problems at Dover until some traffic had been queuing for over 16 hours. Highways England's guesstimates of queuing times on the A20 were almost all underestimates. No-one took responsibility quick enough to ask people to stop coming down and to abort journeys.

"Kent has Operation Stack to deal with closures to the channel crossings. We don't like it, but it means that there is safe queuing, basic facilities such as toilets and water given to queuing drivers. Throughout this weekend, Kent Police and Highways England have told us that you can't deploy Stack as its for freight only. The alternative has been to trap people in queues on the A20 for up to 16 hours with no facilities, no food, and only a little water after many hours. Stack is bad. Their alternative was inhumane."

Sarah Smith, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Dover and Deal, called for urgent investment in local roads. Sarah said:

"This is not just a local issue, Dover gridlock is a national issue affecting people and businesses all over the country. We are paying for decades of under investment in critical infrastructure.

"Locally Liberal Democrats are calling for strategic widening of the M2 and M20, a network of lorry stops, wifi traffic management with strict enforcement, and a road tunnel for Dover. Investment here will improve national productivity and create jobs."

Aston Mannerings reported from Capel-le-Ferne that locals described the situation as "crazy", "ridiculous" and "absurd". Many were giving water to thirsty holidaymakers, whilst New Dover Road residents offered use of their bathrooms for families who had been stuck in their cars for hours.

"The kindness of Capel residents cannot make up for holidays shortened and critical deadlines missed.

"It is time for sustained investment in our infrastructure." said Aston.