Shock as White­hall re­fuses to pay £570k Stack costs

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Inspectors’ Damning Report On Care Home -

Kent tax­pay­ers will have to pick up the bill for polic­ing Op­er­a­tion Stack af­ter the govern­ment re­fused to pay.

The county’s crime com­mis­sioner Ann Barnes ap­plied to the Home Sec­re­tary to cover the £576,925 cost of en­forc­ing the con­tro­ver­sial sys­tem last year.

She has now ex­pressed her “ut­ter sur­prise and dis­ap­point- ment” af­ter Theresa May turned down the re­quest.

The t raf f i c man­age­ment scheme, which al­lows lor­ries to park on the M20 while they wait to cross the Chan­nel, was im­ple­mented sev­eral times last year.

It caused chaos for res­i­dents, mo­torists and lorry driv­ers, par­tic­u­larly be­tween June 23 and Au­gust 2, when it was in place for 28 days in a row.

At peak times, there were 112 mem­bers of Kent Po­lice work­ing on the op­er­a­tion ev­ery 24 hours.

Mrs Barnes sent a let­ter to the polic­ing min­is­ter Mike Pen­ning MP in Novem­ber, re­quest­ing re­im­burse­ment un­der the Home Of­fice Spe­cial Grant Process.

Speak­ing last week af­ter the bid was turned down, Mrs Barnes said: “Op­er­a­tion Stack is ac­knowl­edged as a na­tional prob­lem now, and yet polic­ing ser­vices in Kent have been put un­der strain to deal with it.

“Lo­cal tax­pay­ers should not have to pick up the bill for the in­abil­ity of oth­ers to solve the prob­lem.

“I need to dis­cuss with the Home Of­fice, as a mat­ter of ur­gency, about how we can take things for­ward from here to make sure that Kent Po­lice is not left car­ry­ing the can in the fu­ture.

“It is sim­ply not ac­cept­able to have to rou­tinely di­vert po­lice re­sources to cover Stack and for those ex­tra costs to be borne by the tax­pay­ers in Kent.

“In fact, on my way to the of­fice only this morn­ing I was wor­ried when I passed hun­dreds of lor­ries parked up on the M20, thanks to a dif­fi­culty in the tun­nel and the ad­verse weather con­di­tions.

“It would seem from the Home Sec­re­tary’s de­ci­sion that should Op­er­a­tion Stack be called again the tax­pay­ers of Kent will be un­fairly ex­pected to pay for polic­ing it.

“This mis­ery will con­tinue un­til we get a long-term so­lu­tion.”

Op­er­a­tion Stack in op­er­a­tion be­tween junc­tions 11 and 12 on the M20 at Folke­stone, and Kent crime com­mis­sioner Ann Barnes

Pic­tures: Ruth Cuer­den FM3039992/Tony Flash­man FM2588447

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