Lorry drivers facing Kent misery as parking ban set to continue
- Sunday 27 June 2021
Lorry drivers are facing many more months of misery as it appears the government is set to extend a ban on lorries parking in Kent.
In January, following the end of the UK’s transition period after leaving the European Union, there were severe concerns about Kent being choked with lorries unable to get across the channel. As a consequence Kent county council was given extraordinary powers, for six months, to ban lorries from parking in laybys and on roads.
Drivers can only legally park at services and lorry parks which have in turn become chronically overcrowded, causing extreme tensions and other problems. If drivers don’t comply with the rules they are clamped and fined even though they have to take breaks to be legally compliant.
The current restrictions are due to end this week on Wednesday 30 June but Kent County Council has applied to the Department for Transport for the current rules to be extended.
Members of Unite, which represents thousands of lorry drivers, report that the problems are getting worse as the volume of traffic increases and the problem is now affecting services in over counties particularly Thurrock services in Essex.
Unite members have recorded how service stations are so overcrowded that drivers are being regularly forced to park overnight on double yellow lines on slip roads on the entrance and exit to service stations, in coach parks and petrol garage forecourts.
Drivers have reported that overcrowding has become so severe that fights have broken out between drivers as they are unable to move their vehicles which have got blocked in.
Unite has also received reports that due to the large numbers of drivers using lorry parks and service stations the facilities on offer such as showers and toilets are often very poor, or not cleaned and maintained.
Lorry drivers have to abide by strict regulations which limit how long they can drive before they must take a rest. Drivers report that they are faced with a ‘Hobson’s choice’ of parking illegally or breaking the driving time regulations by driving for too long.
In many cases Unite reps at companies that deliver to Kent, are advising drivers to treat the county in the same manner as central London and not to enter the area unless they have at least four and half hours of driving time available so that they can leave the county before needing to rest.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said “Drivers are facing months of further parking chaos and misery in Kent.
“There are simply not enough lorry parks and services being provided to meet the demands and needs of drivers.
“It is highly disturbing to learn that in extreme cases fights have broken out.
“The extra stress and tension that the Kent parking ban is having on drivers is an additional factor as to why so many are leaving the industry.
“The industry is already in crisis due to shortages of drivers and the Kent parking ban is making a bad situation worse.
“The government cannot simply extend the parking ban without making immediate provision for drivers to be able to park safely and have access to decent facilities so they are properly refreshed and safe to drive long distances the following day.”
Notes to editors:
For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.