Controversial lorry clamping scheme on A20 at Ashford set to stay

Council bosses say a controversial trial which saw almost 3,000 lorries clamped in 18 months is to be made permanent.

HGV drivers were banned from parking overnight on a five-mile stretch of the A20 between Charing and the Drovers roundabout between October 2017 and March this year.

Chiefs at Ashford Borough Council asked the government whether the trial – which also covered four industrial estates in the town and was the first of its kind in the UK – could be made permanent.T

They met with bosses at the Department for Transport (DfT) to discuss the idea after 2,754 drivers were penalised and have now been told it can.

Ashford council’s deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) said making the penalty permanent was “essential”.

“Before the trial started, we had drivers parking inappropriately,” he said.

“The drivers have no excuse for parking in lay-bys now because the Ashford International Truck Stop has been extended by 200 spaces.”

Of the 2,754 lorries clamped during the trial – which was run by the council and Kent County Council – 1,449 were on the A20 alone.

The scheme came into force following numerous complaints from residents concerned about drivers pulling up close to homes and junctions.

During the trial, truckers were banned from parking in the areas covered by the trial between 8pm and 7am.

If clamped, they had to pay a £150 release fee.

The authority asked the DfT if it could continue to penalise drivers indefinitely, with bosses hoping to increase the £150 fine as the fee only covered the cost of the clamping company.

At a joint transportation board meeting earlier this month, councillors unanimously agreed to ask the DfT if the scheme could continue permanently.

And now it has been revealed the A20 between Charing and the Drovers roundabout will be covered by the overnight restriction, as will the Ashford Business Park and Orbital Park in Sevington and Ellingham Industrial Estate and Wotton Road.

Earlier this year, Kent County Council launched a Traffic Regulation Order consultation about making the trail permanent.

Sixteen responses were in support of the scheme, with one objection from the Road Haulage Association.

Speaking at the joint transportation board meeting, Road Haulage Association’s Tom Cotton defended the need to park on roads.

“Laybys are road safety features which enable all drivers to take a break,” he said.

“HGV drivers must take mandated breaks – there are serious consequences, loss of vocational licence and jobs for those who fail to comply.

“Santa does not deliver Christmas, nor the Easter Bunny Easter eggs, it all comes on the back of a lorry.

“Trucks are the invisible supply line, no delivery is free, despite many retailers offering free delivery.

“Sixteen consultation responses supported making this order permanent – 16 along a five-mile section of road with thousands of residents living adjacent to it.

“The needs of the borough, Kent and the entire UK economy need to come above the 16 opponents.

“If you decide there is a need, then proper infrastructure needs to be put in place before restrictions are created.

“If appropriate overnight parking existed, the Road Haulage Association would not oppose restrictions.”

Cllr Bartlett says that now the Ashford International Truck Stop in Sevington has increased its capacity by 200 spaces, there is sufficient overnight lorry parking.

And the council heard back from the DfT last Friday confirming the scheme could run indefinitely, which could pave the way for other authorities to roll out similar schemes in their areas.

Cllr Bartlett added: “This is terrific news for us at Ashford because it enables us to ensure that inappropriate anti-social parking in residential areas is no longer permitted and we can charge £150 release fee for lorries that do that.”

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