Shock u-turn over truck-stop

Swale council has abandoned plans to create a lorry park at Faversham until M2 junctions 5 at Sittingbourne and 7 at Faversham are improved. Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy and property, said: “Until these issues are resolved and a proper strategy is in place we can’t support new lorry parks in the area.”

Cllr Monique Bonney, Swale council’s cabinet member for economy and property. Picture: Swale council

But Sittingbourne and Swale MP Gordon Henderson said today: “This has pulled the rug from under my feet. This is short-sighted of the council to effectively wash its hands of the problem.”

“We have lorries illegally clogging up our lay-bys, residential roads and industrial estates every night. It doesn’t matter when the M2 junctions are upgraded, the problem needs to be solved now.”

He has been in talks with Kent Highways and Highways England to identify alternative sites in Rushenden, Ridham Dock and Sittingbourne. He said: “They have finally agreed that two or three smaller parks may be better than one large one.

“This decision is not very public-spirited of Swale council. I am astonished by this retrograde step and will be bringing it up with its leader when I meet him on Friday.”

Gordon Henderson, MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey

The previous Conservative administration had been working with Kent County Council, Canterbury City Council and Highways England since Marchto find a site for a formal lorry park near Brenley Corner. These talks have been pulled.

But the council, now run by a coalition led by Labour councillor Roger Truelove, says it will continue to talk to KCC and Highways England to find other solutions as part of a “wider strategy”. Cllr Bonney said: “Swale suffers from more unofficial lorry parking than any other district in Kent.

“This has a massive impact on residents who are living with the air pollution, noise, litter and dangerous parking. “The road network is already stretched.

There is uncertainty over the proposed improvements to the M2 at junction 5 with the A249 and, despite lobbying from ourselves and Kent County Council, there are still no plans to improve the M2 junction at Brenley Corner which is already at capacity.”

Cllr Cameron Beart (Conservative) for Queenborough and Halfway.

Picture: Swale council

Cllr Cameron Beart (Cons, Queenborough) branded it a “poor decision.” He said: “I have been arguing for lorry parks since 2016. “The new coalition has decided to bury its head in the sand in this short-sighted decision that has confirmed it won’t be considering any lorry parks until the M2 junctions are upgraded. “While we know these junctions desperately need improvement, it does nothing to support our residents to ignore the problem they are already plagued by.

“There are already dozens of lorries parked in Neats Court, Cullet Drive and West Minster on Sheppey and on the Eurolink and Trinity Trading Estate at Sittingbourne every night.

“Drivers need somewhere safe and secure to park and to dispose of their waste and where they aren’t causing a nuisance to residents and hampering road safety.

Lines of lorries parked up in Cullet Drive, Rushenden, Queenborough, Sheppey, near Neats Court

“We are now in 2020 and the new coalition council’s plan is to do absolutely nothing and hope someone else comes up with the solution.” The report was discussed at the council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday, December 18. Details were announced today.

Read more: Kent transport stories here.

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