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New truck parking restrictions recently put in force in Kent to address problems caused by overnight parking in certain locations in the borough have been met with alarm.

The new rules see civil enforcement officers prohibiting truck drivers from parking up on the A20 between and including Charing and the Drovers Roundabout in Ashford between the hours of 8 pm and 7 am the following day.

The restrictions also covers the Orbital Park and Ashford Business Park in Sevington, and Ellingham Industrial Estate and Wotton Road in South Ashford.

Those found breaking the rules will receive a £70 Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and have their vehicle clamped “on the first and every subsequent occasion they park”, Ashford Borough Council said. The clamp will be removed on payment of the PCN and a release fee.

The experimental restrictions, which commenced on October 30, have been branded as “excessive, unnecessary and need urgent modification” by the RHA.

The industry body said if the trials continue unchanged, they will result in tired drivers “being forced to continue their journeys unsafely”.

“Drivers’ hours rules were introduced to ensure HGV drivers take proper and adequate rest,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “This is for the safety of all road users – not just those behind the wheel, but also those that are vulnerable such as cyclists and pedestrians.

“As Kent County and Ashford District Councils know, there is already a shortage of overnight parking facilities for lorries. These latest restrictions should only have been introduced after sufficient proper HGV overnight parking facilities had been created. Despite promises to the contrary, this has not been done.

Locally, Ashford Truckstop is oversubscribed each night and has to turn drivers away, RHA said (Trucking, November 2017).

“It is a legal requirement for HGV drivers to take a mandatory 45-minute break after 4.5 hours’ driving. Drivers also take short ad-hoc rests before making deliveries or collections so they meet customer timings – given the unreliable road network, such stops are unavoidable. For an incident to occur as a result of a driver’s inability to rest due to a lack of appropriate parking facilities is totally unacceptable.”

The RHA said it has written to the leader of Kent County Council to “express its concerns” and call for an urgent review of the current trials.

It suggested that as a minimum, restrictions should be modified so parking/stopping time of at least two hours is allowed at all times, even days per week, in all lay-by areas on the A20.

“This will allow drivers to take their statutory 45-minute safety rest breaks,” it said in a statement. “Even though this change is not ideal given the lack of overnight parking, it will at least ensure most local operations will be able to be done safely and efficiently.”