Operation Stack in Kent

GraceB
GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
edited 31. Jul 2015, 04:40 in Community Chit-chat archive
Thanks to the French strikers, for the second time in as many weeks we are now trapped in our home town. :| The M20 which cuts through our town is a lorry park and what would normally be a 5 minute local journey is taking anything up to an hour. Whether I am at work or at home I am affected by this.

I feel so sorry for the lorry drivers. On our local news at 6.30pm tonight some of the drivers were saying they'd been parked up for 13 hours and not had any water offered to them at all. I understand that this has now been done by emergency services, Red Cross and Salvation Army etc., but I am amazed that more of them haven't been taken ill due to the extreme heat we have here.

I won't comment on the fact that my taxes are now paying towards a huge operation involving Police and other emergency services, the provision of roadside toilet facilities and the impact it is having on people trying to get to/fro work and do their jobs. My mum's carers are affected by this and they are struggling to get to their clients, all of whom are elderly, vulnerable and more at risk at the moment due to the heatwave.

If you are not in Kent please spare us a kind thought. If you are, you'll know exactly how I feel. :roll:

GraceB

Comments

  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I empathise, Grace, we have a similar system here should there be trouble at Felixstowe docks but I am fortunate in that I am not affected. One thing that grinds Ipswich to a total halt is when the Orwell Bridge has to be closed, thanks to high winds or RTAs, then chaos ensues as enormous lorries try to navigate comparatively tiny roads. DD
  • barbara12
    barbara12 Member Posts: 21,256
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Grace this is awful, I never give a thought to the people that live nearby, I hope its overwith very soon
  • Slosh
    Slosh Member Posts: 3,194
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Agree with Barbara, they never report the impact on the wider environment and people living there. As the problem is being caused by the French maybe they should be billed for the costs. Hope things resolve soon for everyones sake.
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well we now have a total of 23 miles of motorway converted into a lorry park! More portable loos, more supplies of water and "emergency ration packs" being issued to the truck drivers. Phase 4 was implemented this afternoon and even the local Authority and Police are saying this has never been known.

    The motorway is now shut between junctions 7-12 coastbound and between junctions 9-10 London bound. Effectively we are officially marooned as I live adjacent to junction 10. :roll:

    Sitting by my lounge window doing this post I can hear lorries being parked up, lorry hooters being blown constantly. My neighbour took her Miniature Daschund out for a walk at 9pm - when it was cool enough for them both to be able to move - and said she could hear the drivers on their radios and calling to one another. I sincerely hope that they will respect they are parked up adjacent not only to a residential area but also in very close proximity to a major hospital.

    We have even more congestion in the town. I went the alternative route to work this morning, what would normally take 10 minutes took 25 minutes. Within half an hour of me getting to work that route was at a standstill.

    Because of this I now don't know if I'm going to be able to get over to my 90 yr old mum who lives the other side of town tomorrow. I need to get there to check on her and do certain essential tasks, bearing in mind next week I have my op.

    I hope for a resolution tomorrow, but as we now have over 5,000 lorries parked up on this motorway even if the dispute ends tomorrow, the chaos won't clear until the weekend at the earliest.

    GraceB
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well the first lot cleared and we had a lovely 48 hours of being able to get to and fro easily.

    Then we had a migrant kill himself in France on the Eurotunnel tracks. Everything Eurotunnel based stopped. Operation Stack was back. They'd not even removed the portaloos from the motorway from the previous lot!

    Within 24 hours of the migrant killing himself, the French strikers were at it again! The day before my op - wonderful.

    Yet again, I had a nightmare journey home from work Tuesday as yet again we have had 30 odd miles of motorway converted to a lorry park.

    Last week we had 40% of Kent Police dealing with this, Fire Brigade were patrolling up and down, Red Cross were involved as well.

    Oh - we have had a laugh though! The Coastguard (yes I have written that correctly!) were dishing out bottles of water donated by T**co. Evi*n. French water given to lorry drivers being held hostage by French strikers. You couldn't make it up if you wanted to! :lol::lol: They were also given meals, medical attention, etc.

    No stats available at the moment re bottles of water and meals being handed out for this week.

    My job share colleague last Thursday walked to work - in a heatwave. It took her an hour each way! I was so impressed I made a point of letting our Line Manager know about this as I said it showed real determination and dedication to her role. I sincerely hope they recognise this with at least a thank you.

    I'm now looking for an online petition so I we can pressurise our local MPs and Government to do something about this. I will also be writing to my MP for what good it will do.

    If you don't have to come to Kent - or certainly the M20 side of things - stay as far away as possible. If you can't avoid it, bring plenty of water with you, food and lots to read. You'll need it!

    GraceB
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    We don't have the "El Nino effect here in Kent. Instead we have the "yo-yo" of Operation Stack. Is it on or off? Is it behind you? :?

    It cleared this morning and for the morning you could drive around the town.

    Lunchtime it changed. Yes, the flaming thing's back on! Again, we have 30 odd miles of lorries in a queue, emergency services dashing here there and everywhere, bottles of water being handed out. Surely there must now be a national shortage of Ev*an? :wink:

    Honestly, we have no idea here whether we are coming, going, or meeting ourselves coming back the other way.

    Made my life extremely difficult here this afternoon when my neighbour had to get me back to my hospital with a post op problem surrounding my dressing change. We had to go through the small country lanes to get there and it was like a re-run of "Challenge Anneka". Just what I didn't need being two days post-op!

    As for tomorrow, I have the challenge of getting to my GP to get a sick note for work. My GP's surgery is on a route that is a diversion for the traffic that can't get onto the M20 so I now anticipate taking an hour to get there and back.

    Am off to try and find an email address for my MP so he can add my complaint to the thousands he'll already have had.

    GraceB
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It's now been on six times in the last five weeks. :shock:

    We are all now signing the online petition asking the Government to "Stop Stack" as it's a pain in the you-know-where. A 5 minute local journey is taking anything between 45 minutes to an hour and a half!

    If you have to come to Kent bring supplies with you, a good book to read and be prepared to take a very long - and extremely slow - diversion.

    This is so annoying, frustrating and to be perfectly honest, un-necessary.

    GraceB
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,697
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    It must be horribly annoying, frustrating, time-consuming and even scary if ambulances etc don't have access.

    I don't know the area at all. What might be an alternative?
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sticky, the trouble is no-one can agree what solution is best. The latest thinking is that a contraflow will be introduced when Operation Stack is on, although the powers that be are still talking about that at the moment.

    Now there's been a huge impact on tourists trying to get to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel Terminal this has hit the national news on a lot of bulletins over the weekend so has become a "national" issue.

    The costs of this don't bear thinking about to be honest.

    The motorway is open at the moment but those of us living in the vicinity are rather cynical now and really don't expect it to stay that way for long...

    GraceB
  • Slosh
    Slosh Member Posts: 3,194
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I do hope a solution can be found soon but with all the ongoing problems in France with strikers and migrants it does look as though it will be a long time before a complete solution is found. As for the costs, I think we should consider billing the French government since the problems that have led to this started there.
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well the motorway was opened on Sunday late morning. It shut again today around about 2.30am. Yet again we have 23+ miles of lorries parked up. :roll:

    My partner had a hospital appt this morning and it was a nightmare getting there as we had to use the diversion route and then work our way through several small towns in order to reach the hospital.

    Coming back home we were able to use the M20 as it was open in that direction. It was very odd though to see a couple of groups of lorries being escorted by Police in the direction of the Eurotunnel and Dover.

    So, yet again we are in the situation of checking the roads on the internet before we even attempt to go anywhere. I'm due back to work next Monday after 3 weeks off sick following an op and will just have to join the queues for getting back home. Not looking forward to it, I have to say! Once in the office building we are effectively marooned there as if you go out at lunchtime in the car it's such a struggle to get back it's just not worth the rise in blood pressure.

    GraceB
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,697
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I think it's dawning on people, very slowly, that this is not just a problem for the Kent police but for the whole country. Similarly, we can't just shove it back to Calais and tell the French to sort it as they could simply walk away from it and tell us to do our own controls at this end instead. The migrant problem is at least a European-wide one but especially for places like Italy and Malta. So far we've had the luxury of being an island. I've no idea what the answer is. Desperate people, with nothing to lose, will not be deterred.
  • GraceB
    GraceB Member Posts: 1,595
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Well, today we were trapped at home. :o Thankfully neither myself or my partner had to get medical help. Had that been the case we'd have had no option but to call 999.

    The reason? Operation Stack absolutely gridlocked our town today. We couldn't get out of our road it was that bad.

    I did have a dental appt - I had no choice but to cancel that. Our internet shopping delivery from T***o came one and a half hours late; I was just extremely thankful that it came at all! My neighbour had her delivery from S*****ry and that was over an hour late as well.

    The queues on the Motorway here are now beyond all recognition. This area of Kent is now practically closed. If you know anyone coming this way please tell them not to come.

    The Government are doing absolutely nothing about this, despite having had a meeting of Cobra. Highways England decided due to "health and safety" they couldn't introduce the contraflow on the motorway they'd promised so we are again in limbo land.

    The people of Kent are fed up with this! More and more people here are saying this is a National Emergency for the UK and the powers that be now need to urgently get off their backsides and do something! It's just a shame we don't have a high ranking Politician living here; had that been the case I think things may have been rather different.

    There's an online petition which you can get to via change.org - please search for "Operation Stack petition" and if you feel you can support the people of Kent, perhaps you'd be kind enough to sign this? We need all the help we can get. Thanks.

    I now have an alternative route in my mind for getting home when I go back to work on Monday. This will involve me going out of my way for 10 miles - yes you did read that right! 10 miles. :roll: I'm going to have to travel in the wrong direction, go through a couple of small villages and then double back in order to avoid the road near to where I live as that was the reason we couldn't get out today. This is absolutely ludicrous! Going back to work from having three weeks off sick after surgery, the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is to have to drive un-necessary miles, but it's either that or come my usual way home and take 1hr 45mins to get home. For clarity's sake, I should just mention I live 7 minutes drive away from where I work.

    Please, if you can, help us by signing this petition. Life here is becoming intolerable. Thank you.

    GraceB
  • theresak
    theresak Member Posts: 1,998
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I have every sympathy with you and the people of Kent. The whole situation is worsening by the day, with no solution in sight.

    We've just cancelled a trip to Ypres which we booked ages ago. Living up here in Durham we always use the Tunnel because of the speed of loading/unloading, as well as the actual journey time - we can get from here to Ypres by early evening normally. To sail from Dunkirk would add on too much time & would probably necessitate staying the night before sailing.


    I suspect we're not the only ones to cancel a trip. I've always found security at the Tunnel to be so lax as to be virtually non-existent - we worked out that the last time our car was checked for explosives was 2007 - no-one on either side of the Channel has waved the 'wand' over/under the car in any of our subsequent trips. Quite a contrast with airport security.

    Hope your journey to/from work isn't too much of a nightmare.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,697
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I've just tried to sign it. Maybe it's my eyesight (which I didn't know was bad) but I can't see what I'm supposed to put into each box as the writing is so faint. I could see 'name' and 'email address' but no more.

    Tezz, have you thought of either flying to Amsterdam and hiring a car there (which is what we did when we had a superb, if emotional time, in Ypres) or doing as Mr SW used to do when going on his walking holidays in France - he took the overnight Hull - Zeebrugge ferry and arrived perfectly refreshed for the following day's driving.
  • theresak
    theresak Member Posts: 1,998
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    We've decided that next time we go to Ypres/Bruges/Ghent we will sail Hull - Zeebrugge. It makes sense from here, though works out more expensive.

    People often say 'boring Belgium' but we like it - there are some beautiful places to visit. Meanwhile, having cancelled our city break we are heading instead to a peaceful cottage on the shore of Lochcarron - another of our favourite places.

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