The Department for Transport has decided to rescind the powers granted Kent County Council in relation to the clamping of heavy goods vehicles parked in the county’s laybys.
This has come as welcome news to many in the haulage industry, including Logistics UK, which earlier in the year wrote a letter to the Transport Minister, expressing strong misgivings about the Council’s powers to clamp lorries parked in certain laybys for more than forty-five minutes at a time.
For some months, parking in Kent has been an issue of significant concern; given the shortage of legal parking spaces in the county, many hauliers have been forced to make use of laybys in order to take their required breaks and rests, and for this a large number have been penalised.
Heidi Skinner, Logistics UK’s policy manager for the south-east, applauded the ministers’ decision. In a statement she said:
“The decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) to withdraw Kent County Council’s (KCC) clamping ban on lorry parking in laybys across several areas of Kent is great news for all those hardworking drivers who keep the country stocked with everything we need. Lorry drivers, who were deemed “essential” during the pandemic, must be able to take their legally required rests during the day without fear of prohibitions: while the existing shortage of between 1,000 and 1,200 HGV parking spaces in Kent continues, laybys are often the only option for those seeking somewhere to stop.”
Ms. Skinner stressed the need for the government to maintain a close relationship with industry leaders, so that fundamental concerns regarding driver welfare are addressed, and improvements legislated appropriately so as to minimise further disruption to the supply chain. Continuing, she said:
“While today’s announcement is welcome, it is now vitally important that DFT works closely with KCC to create sufficient safe parking spaces. The welfare of these key workers must be a priority, to provide them with access to safe and secure parking spaces to rest – for both their welfare and to meet legally mandated rest periods from driving. The shortage of appropriate spaces is a problem which has been highlighted to government for several years now, without any significant action being taken. The Dover Straits is such a key link in the UK’s supply chain and it is imperative that those using the route can do so safely, without having to put their health or their loads at risk while in transit.”