Sevenoaks MP Sir Michael Fallon has described the Transport Secretary’s response to his concerns over plans to turn the whole of the M26 into a lorry park in the event of a no deal Brexit as “completely unsatisfactory” and “not reassuring”.
Sir Michael met recently both Chris Grayling and the Roads Minister Jesse Norman with the leaders of Sevenoaks District Council and Kent County Council to press for alternative options. The Department for Transport has apologised for not consulting the local community before closing the M26 overnight.
Sir Michael said: “This response is unsatisfactory and does not provide the reassurances the local community needs. A lorry park, if it is required, should be in the east of Kent, closer to the ports. I continue to urge the Transport Secretary to reconsider.”
Michael has pressed the government for answers following news that the new Thameslink fast service from Maidstone East, Otford and Swanley to London due to start from December 2018 has now been postponed until at least December 2019.
The local MP submitted a series of Parliamentary Questions to the Rail Minister about the matter. The Rail Minister answered the questions last week, writing:
“Learning lessons from previous major changes and to enable the industry to reduce the risk of disruption to passengers from too much change on the network at any one time, the Secretary of State for Transport asked Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to propose options to reduce the risk of disruption to passengers from the introduction of the Thameslink timetable and operational changes. GTR’s proposal increases the number of services through central London more gradually than had been planned, beginning in May 2018 and ending in December 2019.
The changes have been selected as the best option to benefit the most passengers across the wider south east network. The new Thameslink services from Maidstone East will now be delivered in December 2019.”
Michael has also written to the Transport Secretary for an explanation, demanding he provide reasons for not having consulted on proposals before having taken the decision.
Before writing to the Transport Secretary, Michael was informed by GTR that the decision had been taken by the Department for Transport.
Michael said: “This is not good enough. We need confirmation that operators will still achieve full capacity on this route, as planned, in 2018. I await the Transport Secretary’s explanation for not having consulted with stakeholders before taking this decision.”