County Council leader Paul Carter has warned that Kent faces “increased risks” if the government does not deliver a frictionless border as it negotiates the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The Conservative has admitted that protracted border and customs checks could clog east Kent’s roads with vehicles trying to get on to the Continent.
And he fears that continued uncertainty over the exact terms of Britain’s departure has left the planning of numerous public agencies unable to be finalised.
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Mr Carter will tell a Kent County Council meeting next week: “The Government expects arrangements to be signed which leaves the borders ‘as frictionless as possible’ and we support the government in that endeavour.
“However, Kent’s position as the gateway to Europe means that the county faces increased risks if the conclusion of UK-EU negotiations does not deliver this.”
He is especially concerned that the police and roads authorities may have to put Operation Stack into action, effectively turning major routes such as the M20 into lorry waiting areas.
This would happen if there were delays caused by increased border and customs checks.
Mr Carter will continue: “It has been our long term objective to avoid this disruption to the Kent highway and to keeping the whole of the strategic network open at all times.
“We need to avoid the dire consequences experienced in 2015 which impacted on the Kent economy and and more broadly on the national economy.”
County council officials have been working with the government on the post-Brexit arrangements, but Mr Carter says there are still areas of huge uncertainty.
They primarily concern trading standards, border security, port resilience and “contingency plans covering all eventualities”.
He will add: “KCC officers have positively engaged with the planning arrangements that the Government has put in place to consider these matters.
“However, uncertainty means inevitably plans still need to be resolved, with some concerns that multi-agency working across government departments and with Kent needs to be enhanced.”