More than 200 trucks were turned away from Ashford Truckstop in Kent on October 31 because of a lack of spaces, as drivers sought somewhere to park to avoid potential fines.
Ashford Truckstop’s general manager, Darren Smith, said: “By 18.30 we had received over 90 reservations – usually around 20-30 by the end of the night. By 19.30pm we had to turn away 252 trucks – a record to say the least.”
This happened as Kent County Council (KCC) and Ashford Borough Council’s (ABC) new policy to clamp down on illegally parked HGVs came into force.
The scheme allows the authorities to clamp and fine drivers who park up in certain areas. The zones under this ban are: The A20 between Charing and Ashford; Wotton Road; Ellingham Industrial Estate; The Orbital Park, Sevington and Ashford Business Park, Sevington. It runs between 8pm and 7am Monday to Friday and 24 hours Saturday and Sunday on the industrial estates. The fine to get the truck released is £70.
The situation at Ashford Truckstop underlines the lack of the most basic of facilities for HGV drivers, according to Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association.
“No driver wants to spend the night in a layby – it’s both unsafe and unhygienic,” he added. “But for those who are unable to get into an official truckstop there is no alternative. The additional stress that this causes HGV drivers is both unnecessary and unavoidable.”
This situation could yet get worse, Burnett warned. “With Christmas just over 7 weeks away the levels of traffic journeying across the Channel will increase dramatically and the amount of HGVs on Kent roads in particular will intensify,” he said. “But what are those drivers, unable to get into a lorry park to do? The refusal of local authorities to acknowledge this serious problem is simply putting the safety of drivers and their loads at risk.
“What employer would ask their staff to spend the night, in their car, in a layby? For the thousands of HGV drivers responsible for moving 90% of the UK economy, there is simply no choice.”
Meanwhile Smith noted that Ashford Truckstop has applied for permission to establish an additional 300 parking spaces, “but that won’t relieve the immediate problem.”