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Traffic Management: Kent

Volume 688: debated on Thursday 28 January 2021

What steps his Department is taking to ensure the effective management of traffic in (a) Dover and (b) Kent. (911503)

We are working to support all those in Kent with traffic management, including the Kent Resilience Forum and the local authorities. I also pay tribute to the military and to NHS Test and Trace for the way that they helped to get things going again after the Christmas lorry crisis.

Having worked so positively with my right hon. Friend and with the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Rachel Maclean), over so many months on the Keep Dover Clear strategy, it was extremely disappointing that Dover came to halt and a standstill and faced gridlock following France’s unreasonable closure of the border. Will my right hon. Friend reaffirm the Government’s commitment to keep Dover clear so that whatever happens at the port of Dover or is done by the French, people can get around to work, to school and in their daily lives?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and I pay tribute to her for the way that she has campaigned to keep Dover clear. She is right also in saying that before Christmas, President Macron decided to close the French border with no notice, meaning that we ended up with thousands of lorries gridlocking Kent. We had to put in place emergency measures, which have included at this stage having provided lateral flow tests to 120,000 hauliers in order for them to cross. I can report to the House that once they have crossed to the other side, the French have also been carrying out some tests. No one has come across with coronavirus as a result of the enormous programme we have put in place, none of which would have been possible without my hon. Friend’s tremendous assistance during those few days before Christmas while the military, NHS Test and Trace, the police and, not least, the local MP worked to clear the problem.