Lower Thames Crossing - 23-09-16
Constituency work, by its very nature, is territorial but there are several challenges that MPs handle regionally; border control, counter-terrorism, public transport to name but three. To that end I meet with my Kent colleagues regularly to address common issues and together we act for the wider good of the people of this great County.
One longstanding campaign constantly in the news is Operation Stack, which was first implemented way back in 1988. Almost three decades later a lorry park has been agreed as part of an alternative solution to 'stack', a measure Kent colleagues have campaigned for successfully.
But we also believe a wider, more strategic approach, is needed to tackle congestion relating to the Channel ports that sometimes backs-up for miles along the M20, causing misery for Maidstone and our neighbours.
Enter the Lower Thames Crossing; another old chestnut first mooted in 1989, with a decision to build expected later this year. Colleagues support the proposed crossing but unless the traffic can be effectively delivered to and from that point, our County will be scarcely better off.
That is why Kent MPs have this week written to the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary to raise two issues; Dualling the A2 continuously between Dover and the M2 (to remove bottlenecks and dissuade drivers from using the M20 unnecessarily); and secondly, taking the route North of the Thames all the way to the M11 instead of connecting into the vastly overcrowded M25. This creates a clear corridor all the way between the Channel and the Midlands – a scheme I understand was first suggested in 2010 by consultants advising Kent County Council.
With a new lorry park and a free flow of traffic independent of the M20 / M25 to and from Kent, Operation Stack could become a thing of the past and Maidstone will become all the better a place to live and work. Here's to progress - whatever the pace!
Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger. The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.