Chris Grayling's traffic jam?

Was there any point to the government's lorry exercise?

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Chris Grayling slammed for 'calamitous' £60,000 no-deal Brexit lorry park test

The Department for Transport commissioned dozens of lorries to arrive at Manston airfield this morning and drive to Dover to simulate a contingency plan for disruption at the ports.

But the fake traffic jam came under fire after fewer than 90 lorries turned up for the test - fewer than the Government had hoped for.

Ministers plan to use the airfield as a lorry park to prevent traffic jams along the A256 if extra customs checks imposed as a result of a no-deal Brexit create tailbacks along the route.

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Attempts to prepare for a no deal Brexit continue to be farcical

By Joe Harker

The government is planning for the possibility of a no deal Brexit, what with the exit date of March 29 approaching and there being no sign of the prime minister's deal being at all palpable to the House of Commons or the country at large.

Part of this is granting funds to ferry companies that have no ships chartered, stole their terms and conditions from a takeaway website and has a chief executive who previously ran a company that was liquidated while still owning money to the UK tax authorities.

Another exercise taken was testing how the UK will deal with the lorries coming through the Port of Dover. 10,000 pass through every day and the checks required once out of the EU will take a lot of time and cause a backlog.

Last year transport secretary Chris Grayling said that to keep traffic flowing through the borders they would not be conducting checks but French authorities have said that all food and livestock being transported needs to be checked at border points.They also said that a delay of just two minutes could cause a 27,000 lorry queue on both sides of the English Channel.

In the event of a no deal Brexit the government plans to use Manston Airport, around 20 miles from Dover, as parking for up to 6,000 lorries. Attempts to simulate this and test how the UK would cope have not gone well.

The government planned to use 150 heavy goods vehicles to see how the UK would do but only 89 turned up. A number of government ministers denounced the test as a "farce" with Dover MP Charlie Elphicke saying the number of lorries used in the test was a "drop in the ocean" compared to the many thousands that would be using the route once the UK leaves the EU.

The government tests also tried to determine how the A256, the road between Manston Airport and Dover, would cope with the increased traffic. The journey took about an hour and proceeded smoothly but lorry driver David Martin called the exercise "a waste of time" due to using 89 vehicles to test a system that would need to accommodate thousands.

He also warned the extra journey time would increase petrol costs and cause deliveries to take longer. He said: "When you're doing that extra 40 miles two or three times a week and at eight miles to the gallon, it all adds up."

Rod McKenzie, managing director of policy for the Road Haulage Association, criticised the government's attempts at preparing for a no deal Brexit. He said: "With 89 trucks, in no way can it replicate a potential 6,000 trucks that might need to be held in or around Kent and Manston.

"This planning should have been done many months ago, and preferably on a bigger scale. It should have been continuous and stress-tested, I doubt many truck drivers will be impressed by this."

It's not just truck drivers who are unimpressed by the government's efforts to prepare for Brexit.

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