Truckers still getting lost on way to Brexit lorry park

Angry residents are growing increasingly impatient waiting for a solution to be found to stop lorry park-bound truckers getting lost in Mersham. HGV drivers trying to find the post-Brexit ‘Sevington Inland Border Facility’ are still losing their way – even though the 66-acre site near Ashford opened almost a year ago. Watch as lorries get stuck in Mersham.

Credit: Kate Agrell In January, the wrong postcode was given out and truckers entering the UK were sent through the village. This was quickly corrected but now, almost 12 months on, lorry drivers are still getting lost, tearing up grass verges and blocking roads while trying to turn around.

Kingsford Street resident Linda Arthur says a verge by her garden was “absolutely ruined” last month.

“It must also be frustrating for the drivers because they don’t want to be wasting their time stuck in the centre of a village; we know it’s not their fault,” she said.

The 66-acre 'Sevington Inland Border Facility' opened in January. Picture: Chris Davey The 66-acre ‘Sevington Inland Border Facility’ opened in January.

Picture: Chris Davey

“We have a cul-de-sac leading to footpaths so a lot of people use this road, we can’t have enormous HGVs thundering through because our roads are just not built for them. “It has improved since January but it’s still a problem and it should not be happening at all.” Temporary signs directing drivers away from the village were also installed but Ashford MP Damian Green says until drivers update their sat-navs, the problems will continue.

“The truth is, it will only be solved once and for all if every lorry driver looked at signs properly,” he said.

“People persuaded the authorities to have proper signalling and signposting on the motorway, and all the relevant signs saying ‘don’t come in here this is a village’ are in place, but I think the remaining problems – which are smaller than they used to be but are still very annoying for residents – are due to people using old sat-navs.

Phil Duley saw this lorry on a pavement next to Junction 10a Phil Duley saw this lorry on a pavement next to Junction 10aThis was how part of the verge looked in Kingsford Street after the lorry mounted the pavement. Picture: Phil Duley This was how part of the verge looked in Kingsford Street after the lorry mounted the pavement.

Picture: Phil Duley

“They don’t respond to the latest information and that’s the route of it. “Until every lorry in Europe has got a modern sat-nav, there will always be one or two who chose to ignore the signs and follow the sat-nav. “No sign is ever perfect but it is much better than it used to be.

Very rightly people complain because it causes chaos in Mersham. “In the early days there were several mistakes made and leaflets were handed out at the port with the wrong postcode which was stopped very quickly, but there will have been lorry drivers who took the leaflet once and are still following it.” Mersham representative Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) says he thinks the main issue is inadequate signage.

Kingsford Street resident Linda Arthur.
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pPicture: Barry Goodwin Kingsford Street resident Linda Arthur. Picture: Barry GoodwinLorries blocked the village in January after drivers were given the wrong postcode.
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pPicture: Stewart Ross Lorries blocked the village in January after drivers were given the wrong postcode. Picture: Stewart Ross

“A few lorries each week doesn’t sound like a lot when thousands travel to the facility but we still need to get a handle on this without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.

“A leaflet telling drivers to update their sat-navs is being given out as truckers enter the UK to help mitigate the problem. “But there is an inland border facility in Dover and Ashford and the Department for Transport hasn’t decided what will happen with them or when. “That means the motorway signs haven’t yet been put up so you have to have some level of sympathy for drivers.

“Until the Department for Transport can get the proper precautions in place, my worry is this situation will continue and people are fed up and getting impatient.”

This verge outside Linda Arthur's home in Kingsford Street was churned up recently This verge outside Linda Arthur’s home in Kingsford Street was churned up recently

Mrs Arthur says when a lorry travels through, she and other villagers have started contacting the distribution companies directly to urge them to update their maps.

She has also spent the past five years trying to get a ‘green buffer zone’ introduced to protect the village from encroaching development between Highfield Lane and Blind Lane.

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