Off the Record With political editor PAUL FRANCIS
One of the unsolved mysteries about this week’s test of the government’s plan to use Manston airport in Thanet as a Brexit emergency lorry park is not why so few hauliers turned up.
Observers were left scratching their heads over the presence of a council rubbish lorry among the convoy of HGVS.
Did it get caught up by mistake? Or had it finished its round early and seen the opportunity to make a little money on the side? Or had it been badgered into taking part to boost numbers?
Yes, Brexit plans are important but we need to know.
n The Department for Transport rather predictably downplayed concerns that too few lorries took part in the trial to learn terribly much about what would happen in reality.
Officials emphasised they were “completely satisfied” by the numbers turning out - maybe one reason was that the low turnout meant the overall bill for paying hauliers £550 came in under budget.
No doubt in time we will get details of a technical analysis and conclusions from what officials usually describe as a “wash up”.
Or maybe we won’t: the government may feel disinclined to share its conclusions if they raise questions about the viability of the emergency plan.
The DFT has proved to be resistant to releasing Brexit-related activity under the Freedom of Information Act, often arguing that to put information about operational activities in the public domain is not in the public interest.
One question that does arise is whether there are any plans to trial the M20 contra-flow plan should there be delays at the channel port.
Given that Highways England has indicated that it could take up to 12 days to implement, maybe they won’t.
n What has happened to the review of the 11-plus that Kent County Council said it would carry out after it emerged - surprise surprise - that some fee-paying independent prep schools coached their pupils to pass the exam - something that is not permitted in Kcc-run schools? The short answer is not much. Or if it has made progress, there’s been no public report about it.
n Follow Paul Francis on Twitter @ Paulonpolitics for all the latest political news and gossip from across Kent and Medway.