Retired lorry driver inspires campaign against Kent County Council’s HGV parking ban

Retired lorry driver inspires campaign against Kent County Council’s HGV parking ban

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Gregor Gowans

Gregor Gowans

Journalist Trans.INFO


Retired lorry driver inspires campaign against Kent County Council’s HGV parking ban

A retired lorry driver angered by Kent County Council’s strict parking ban has inspired a campaign against the HGV clamping that’s been occuring in the region since January 1st.

As of last week, 690 lorries had been clamped since Kent’s new strict parking rules came into force on January 1st.

The reports of trucks being clamped has understandably infuriated drivers, whose options for parking in the region are severely limited.

One of those taking the fight to Kent County Council (KCC) is retired lorry driver Sebastian Barrow, who has been scrutinising the ban and mobilising the road transport industry to have it scrapped – despite currently residing almost 6,000 miles away in Thailand.

Sebastian has sent numerous emails to Kent County Council and the Secretary of State for Transport, and has encouraged others concerned by the issue to do the same. On top of that, Sebastian has been active in a number of Facebook groups for lorry drivers, where he has invited drivers who have been illegally clamped to bring forward evidence.

Speaking to Trans.INFO yesterday, Sebastian described the parking ban as “despicable”, mainly due to the fact that it was “sneaked in by the back door” without any prior consultation.

Sebastian says he was motivated to act after seeing posts on social media about the plight of many truckers in Kent. He then fired off a number of emails to different figures in the council, and also wrote to the RHA and Logistics UK to see where they stood on this matter.

The latter two organisations are now vigorously  “banging the drum for the cause.” The RHA has been working with the Kent Chamber of Commerce to get KCC to come to the table and have meaningful discussions about the parking situation. However, Sebastian tell us this “still has not happened!”

Like many who have complained to KCC about the HGV parking ban, Sebastian is unimpressed by the response. He said the council had written to him to say that “the restrictions are integral to the continued operation of the multi agency post-EU exit traffic management plans”, a reply that he understandably considers “a lot of words about nothing.”

Sebastian added “What difference does it make if a lorry driver is parked up for nine hours minimum in layby. What difference does it make to the traffic management?”

One of the reasons HGV drivers have been parking in the laybys has been a lack of parking facilities in Kent – particularly affordable ones.

In Sebastian’s eyes, the facilities on the European continent are generally far superior and less expensive – a view that is shared by experienced British hauliers including Geoffrey Cave-Wood and Pete White.

Although Sebastian admits that a minority of Eastern European drivers are guilty of littering laybys, which unfortunately sees their fellow countrymen and women being tarred with the same brush, he expresses nothing but total solidarity with everyone that’s been clamped.

This is particularly true when drivers have been clamped when parking legally. Sebastian told us that he had heard from drivers who had been clamped for parking on private land despite having permission to do so. Another driver who had stopped after suffering a fault with his brakes was even warned he would be clamped. Moreover, the behaviour of those clamping the trucks is often “intimidating” and “bang out of order” according to Sebastian.

In recent days Sebastian has been highlighting the above issues in the media, speaking not only to ourselves, but also to the BBC and the local press in Kent. He hopes the increased awareness of the problem will help in the battle to have the parking ban scrapped.

In addition, the retired lorry driver and train driver tells us that KCC are now being “inundated” with messages as a result of the campaign against the ban. Truckers have been encouraged to give their thoughts via this consultancy link.

Some lorry drivers angered by the ban say that truckers should just refuse to deliver to Kent in order to bring about a change in opinion. However, Sebastian believes there is little chance of this happening:

“Unfortunately, we’re not like France, Italy or Spain when it comes to strike action. There’s no solidarity in that respect. And if somebody pulls out from doing supermarket shop deliveries into Kent, believe me – somebody else will step in and take over and that individual will lose the work. That’s what it’s like, it’s so cutthroat.”

If you wish to do your bit to aid the campaign against the parking ban in Kent, you can join the fight on the Kent Hauliers and Drivers Facebook Group, voice your opinion and oppose the order on this consultancy document.

Photo credits: Paul Mercer  (left)/ (right)

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