Lost truckers are clogging up a small village because the government is giving them the wrong postcode for their new Brexit lorry park.
Frustrated residents living in Mersham near Ashford, Kent, have seen their narrow country lanes blocked by HGVs that have been given incorrect directions.
Around 30 lorries arrived in the village since the 66-acre lorry park opened for coronavirus testing on Monday.
Video footage taken by residents showed lorries meeting head-on and having to try and negotiate tight corners. One clip featured a row of three lorries stuck down a narrow road.
Lorries found themselves jammed in the streets of a small Kent village after the government gave them the wrong postcode for the new Brexit lorry park
Lorries have been stuck in jams and causing traffic chaos in the village of Mersham (pictured) with more than 30 arriving and disrupting the village
Lorries ended up meeting head-on in country lanes and having to try and negotiate tight corners
Council bosses say the confused hauliers – who are being sent to the HGV facility from the Eurotunnel terminal near Folkestone 20 miles away – are losing their way due to inaccurate directions.
Instead of using TN24 0TP, which includes the entry point to the Sevington facility next to junction 10a of the M20, HGV drivers are being told to follow TN25 6GE – an address that sends them into Mersham.
On the government’s website, the address for the Sevington Inland Border Facility, which will not be fully operational until late February, includes the wrong postcode.
Resident Stewart Ross, who has lived in the village for 30 years, described the situation as a ‘fiasco’.
He said: ‘It’s basic – even a primary school kid would get that right. Nobody in the village has blamed the drivers – we have always thought the problem is with the authorities as they haven’t got their act together.
‘It seems crazy no one made sure Eurotunnel was given the correct instructions for drivers that turned up without a negative test.’
Instead of using TN24 0TP, the entry point to the Sevington facility, HGV drivers are being told to follow TN25 6GE, a location in Mersham
The government website provides and incorrect address for the Sevington Inland Border Facility, which will not be fully operational until late February
Frustrated residents have been taking pictures and filming the resulting chaos as lorries attempt to manoeuvre in the narrow lanes
Before Christmas, kind-hearted Mersham villagers lowered food from bridges over the M20 to truckers left stranded in Operation Stack.
They used rope and shopping bags to deliver goods including beans, fruit and sweets to stranded lorry drivers waiting for Covid tests.
Kate Agrell, who also lives in the village, begged: ‘We have a good relationship with the hauliers, it’s the government we have a problem with. Please listen to us.’
Mr Ross, who used to work for the Ministry of Defence, says residents faced ‘total chaos’ last Thursday evening when eight lorries arrived in the centre of the village – including five in the road where he lives, which is a dead-end country lane.
He added: ‘Five HGVs ended up at the turning circle and, by the time they came back up, another three had arrived in The Street.
‘Numerous people tried phoning the police who said ‘speak to Highways England’, but we couldn’t find anyone who would accept responsibility.
‘In the end, several villagers and two community police officers who happened to arrive on bicycles helped them manoeuvre.
‘If there hadn’t been villagers there warning them that they were about to hit something, then cars would have been damaged.
The village of Mersham has been heavily involved with truckers in recent months after thousands of lorry drivers were left stranded in Britain awaiting test results so they could cross the border
Residents claim the police and Highways England would not claim responsibility for the lorries in the area
‘But fortunately all of the lorries got out and it is a reflection of the villagers working together to solve a problem that the authorities caused.’
Since Thursday’s logjam, Mr Ross said no further HGVs have arrived as a highways official has now been stationed on the A20 to stop any stray lorries from turning into the village.
He added: ‘I didn’t vote for Brexit – I have lived in Europe, I’ve worked in Europe and I consider myself a British-European.
‘We are part of Europe but the vote has happened and what we should be doing now is getting it right.
‘I still don’t believe we are doing that, though. There’s a lot more red tape now than we were promised.’
Mr Ross believes the delayed Sevington lorry park was ‘never going to be delivered on time’ and rubbished claims the project has been held up by heavy rain.
Kent villagers helped feed stranded truck drivers lined up along the motorway by lowering bags of food to them from bridges. They used rope and shopping bags to deliver goods including beans, fruit and sweets to stranded lorry drivers waiting for Covid tests
The massive 66-acre Kent field which is being turned into a lorry park in the event of post-Brexit hold-ups at Dover is still ‘far from complete’ and will not be ready until February
But the new Kent lorry park, which has begun coronavirus testing, is still not finished and is not anticipated for completion until Feburary
‘It’s been delayed by the fact work started in July, not the weather,’ he said.
‘They have all these consultants working on it but I am not quite sure what they are doing.’
Ashford Borough Council’s deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) confirmed hauliers have been using the wrong postcode.
On Thursday evening, he said Kent Police, Highways England and Eurotunnel were told about the problem so the information can ‘feed through to hauliers’.
He added that the council ‘continues to follow up’ with the government’s website manager about getting the postcode corrected.
But another resident, Linda Arthur, said the main problem is that neither of the postcodes are correct.
The development, next to Junction 10a in Sevington, Ashford was being constructed as the Government prepared for trade talks with the EU to end in a possible no-deal scenario
Upon completion, the vast site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel
She said: ‘The TN24 0TP is also the postcode for Nightingale Close in Sevington.
‘The Department for Transport has not issued a dedicated postcode for the Sevington Inland Border Facility – something it promised it would do right at the start of its community/stakeholder consultation.’
Earlier this week, Cllr Bartlett said he was ‘impressed with how well Kent County Council has accommodated the government’s demand to use the Inland Border Facility as a Covid-19 site so quickly’.
Ashford residents can report Brexit-related issues on the Ashford Borough Council website.
Upon completion, the vast site is supposed to be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel.