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