With continuing disruption in Calais, the authorities have brought ‘Operation Stack’ back into force, which sees a section of the M20 in Kent closed to allow backed-up freight traffic to park on the carriageway. The Institute of Directors, which has 1,500 members in Kent, has expressed concerns about the damage to local businesses, and the wider economy. James Sproule, Director of Policy at the IoD, said:
“Kent businesses will be tearing their hair out with the news that Operation Stack is back in place. This not just bad news for the holiday makers off on their summer breaks, it is also incredibly damaging for the companies who can’t export their goods on schedule, the shops whose stock doesn’t arrive or the firm whose sales take a hit.
“The image this presents to foreign firms and investors is that the UK is completely powerless to stop events in France from practically blocking off our main access point to the continent. We have heard from members who have nearly lost international deals because of the disruption, and the more often this happens, the worse it will look to the outside world
Emma Liddiard, IoD Kent Chairman, said:
“The M20 is becoming a no go area and none of the problems on the French side of the channel tunnel have been fixed, so effectively the UK is closed via Kent. The Government’s only response is to turn big sections of the motorway into parking for thousands of lorries, causing the roads to grind to a miserable halt for everybody else.
“It’s nearly impossible for Kent business to function when this happens, and our members’ patience is wearing thin. The Port of Dover and Kent Highway Services are doing all they can, but that is small comfort to all of us affected on a daily basis. A contraflow system might improve the situation, but it’s a temporary solution, and there’s disagreement over the idea between politicians and the highways agency. We urge the Government to bring forward solutions to the immediate problem on our roads, and reveal their plans to work with the French Government to stop this chaos returning.”