The Department for Transport (DfT) has given Ashford Borough Council the green light to raise clamp release fees on HGVs by 275% on a stretch of the A20 in Kent.
The RHA is at a loss to understand why it was not consulted about plans to increase the fees from £40 to £150 in the controversial six-mile ‘parking trials’ area between the Charing and Drovers roundabouts in Ashford.
“We are a statutory consultee, yet no one consulted us,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett. “This is a monumental change, so to target lorry drivers and to not seek the views of the trade body with responsibility for the HGV sector is unacceptable."
“It’s a legal requirement for an HGV driver to take statutory rest breaks, but because of a lack of facilities in Kent this experiment has completely removed the ability of drivers to take even the shortest rest breaks between 8pm and 7am around Ashford.
“Drivers' hours legislation was introduced as a safety measure to protect all road users, and HGV drivers have a right to expect that they can rest before safely continuing their journeys. The latest plans simply fly in the face of common sense."
“The RHA recognises that inappropriate parking for long periods can be a problem. But, despite the industry highlighting the lack of parking over the last 10 years, neither Kent nor the DfT have provided extra parking. We’ve had the recent debacle of the stack holding area being abandoned and not a single place has been provided to support the new restrictions – authorities have taken a NIMBY approach and want someone else deal with the issue.”
Concluding, Richard Burnett said: “In the short term, we need to see restrictions changed so that trucks can park for up to two hours along this stretch of the A20 at any time to facilitate rest breaks.
“In the longer term, we call on the DfT and local authorities in Kent – and indeed elsewhere – to show leadership on this issue and do all they can to urgently address the shortage of lorry parks.
"This problem isn’t going away, and clamping and harassing hard-pressed hauliers is not the way to resolve it.”