The Freight Transport AssociationÂ (FTA)Â is warning that increased fines are not the solution to illegal truck parkingÂ in Kent. The UKâ€™s leading body representing the logistics sector says the problem will only be solved when there are adequate clean and secure parking facilities for hard-working truck drivers.
Ashford Borough Council has received approval from the Department for Transport to increase the fines imposed as part of its overnight truck parking enforcement trial. FTA understands the charge to truck operators will go upÂ sharplyÂ from Â£40 per infringement to Â£150Â and has beenÂ told the additional moneyÂ will be used toÂ cover the full cost of issuing penalty notices and processing payments.
While FTA appreciates the desire to ensure the scheme is fully funded,Â the associationâ€™sÂ Policy ManagerÂ for the South East, Heidi Skinner says this sudden increase isÂ poorly planned andÂ disproportionate:
â€œWe are shocked by Ashford Borough Councilâ€™s decision to increase fines in this way with so little warning or consultation. The clamping scheme has only been in place for a couple of months, so making such a dramatic increase so quickly and with very little warning isÂ excessive. Truck driversÂ keep Britain trading by providingÂ a public service,Â helping to keep all of us supplied with food and other goods. TheyÂ shouldnâ€™t beÂ penalisedÂ in this way.â€
TheÂ AshfordÂ parking enforcementÂ pilotÂ was introduced inÂ OctoberÂ 2017Â to address concerns about safety and the disruption cause by large numbers of lorries parkingÂ in the town. However,Â MsÂ Skinner says many drivers have no option but to park on public roads:
â€œFTA understands the concerns of Ashford residents, but nobody wants to spend the night parked in a layby or on the roadside, itâ€™s unsanitary and in many cases unsafe for drivers who have valuable goods in their vehicles. Truck drivers are skilled professionals who are required by law toÂ take regular breaks. The government and local authorities need to take action to ensure there are enough clean, secure facilities for them to park overnightÂ before introducing such harsh penalties.â€
FTA is the onlyÂ organisationÂ in the UK that represents all of logistics, with more than 16,000 members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers,Â whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods. Established in 1889, FTAâ€™s members operate more than half of the UKâ€™s HGV fleet, are responsible for more than 90% of freight moved by rail, and 70% of the UKâ€™s sea and air freight. The UK logistics sector employs more than 2.5M people (almost 10% of the UK workforce), and by Keeping Britain Trading directly impacts every aspect of daily life.