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Kent transport chief demands clarity on customs arrangements post-Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:28 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 23 October 2017

Port of Dover

Port of Dover

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Matthew Balfour said he would write to transport secretary Chris Grayling

Kent’s transport chief will write to Chris Grayling demanding clarity on customs arrangements at the county’s ports post-Brexit.

The government has been accused of lacking direction in certainty ever since the decision to leave the European Union 16 months ago, with industry chiefs criticising a lack of engagement in a Commons debate last week.

It follows fears that a failure to strike a deal with the EU before Brexit is formally triggered in March 2019 would spark gridlock across the county’s roads.

Kent County Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Matthew Balfour, told a meeting at County Hall in Maidstone that he would seek assurances from the transport secretary over the coming weeks.

“As chair of the Strategic Freight Group, which has representatives from government and private sector organisations, I am writing to the secretary of state, Chris Grayling, expressing our concerns around the lack of clarity for customs arrangements post-Brexit and the potential impact this could have on Kent’s roads and communities,” he said.

“Freight fluidity is essential to the operation of the port and the Kent and UK economy.

“The group is concerned that without confirmation of what customs arrangements will look like after Brexit, both the EU and UK ports could potentially not be ready to cope with the increased customs checks required.

“We are therefore asking the government to engage with all stakeholders to prepare and produce detailed plans as soon as possible.

“What we do not want is a repeat of the disruptions of 2015 when Operation Stack was in place for 32 days.”

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