We have to end this £2m blight on everyday life

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

VALU­ABLE po­lice time is be­ing wasted “babysit­ting” for­eign lorry driv­ers when Op­er­a­tion Stack is in force on the M20 says the chair of the Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity (KPA).

Ann Barnes is call­ing for a long-term so­lu­tion to the prob­lems cre­ated by Stack as she re­vealed that polic­ing lor­ries stacked-up on the mo­tor­way in 2008/2009 cost Kent po­lice around £2 mil­lion.

Mrs Barnes said high costs were in­curred when po­lice in­tro­duced Op­er­a­tion Stack as a re­sult of in­dus­trial dis­putes at ferry ports or ex­treme weather in the Chan­nel.

She said: “I think it’s shock­ing that po­lice time is be­ing spent babysit­ting for­eign lorry driv­ers. It’s grossly un­fair that our po­lice coun­cil tax­pay­ers here in Kent have to pay for this. But from a safety per­spec­tive we have no choice.”

When Stack is in­tro­duced it means po­lice of­fi­cers be­ing taken off their nor­mal du­ties, called in from rest days, and be­ing paid over­time when the op­er­a­tion is run­ning.

Op­er­a­tion Stack has been run­ning in dif­fer­ent ways since the late 1980s when lor­ries were stacked on the old A2 at Ly­d­den, prior to the M20 sec­tion be­ing com­pleted be­tween Maid­stone and Ash­ford.

Mrs Barnes said: “No one has taken any re­spon­si­bil­ity for Op­er­a­tion Stack. This is not a lo­cal prob­lem, but a na­tional one. Our of­fi­cers should be in our com­mu­ni­ties and out in our neigh­bour­hoods keep­ing peo­ple safe and do­ing what we pay them to do.

“I live in south Kent where Op­er­a­tion Stack blights everyday life. It adds hours onto the day and im­pacts on chil­dren be­ing taken to school, get­ting to and from hospi­tal ap­point­ments, and go­ing to work.

“The sur­round­ing vil­lages be­come clogged up with traf­fic and lit­ter is left. It is a prob­lem that is not go­ing to get bet­ter but worse.

“Without Kent Po­lice, Op­er­a­tion Stack would grind the county to a halt. The eco­nomic im­pact would be enor­mous. We are re­liant on the ded­i­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of our po­lice of­fi­cers. But we can’t go on like this. There needs to be a longterm so­lu­tion.”

Ann Barnes, chair­man of Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity

Op­er­a­tion Stack at the M20 on the ap­proach to junc­tion 9 at Ash­ford – the cost to Kent po­lice for 2008/9 was £2 mil­lion

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