By Local Democracy Reporter
ESSEX County Council (ECC) has been urged to ensure traffic is not disrupted on major roads heading to and from ports in Essex.
Among those key links raised for particular note by councillors discussing how the council is preparing for Brexit included the A120 and A12 links to Harwich and the A13, which is an important route to and from the huge London Gateway port at Tilbury.
Harwich does not have the same concerns as Kent crossings – traffic levels are around five per cent of Kent crossings and pre-booked.
London Gateway at Tilbury is a container port with more than 90 per cent of the cargo heading to and from non-European destinations.
But Councillor Andrew Sheldon said he wanted assurances from ECC senior strategy advisor Rob Surtees, who is leading Brexit preparations for the council, that traffic will keep moving on the A13 – especially given the extensive roadworks on it now.
He said: “There are extensive road works going on on the A13 that partly fall under ECC, partly fall under Highways England and partly under Thurrock, to widen the A13 to help cope with the increased capacity of the port.
“Can I get reassurances from yourself on behalf of my residents that in the event there are problems at the port that contingencies are put in place that will not exacerbate the delay in traffic we are already seeing in order to accommodate that work?”
Councillor James Abbott, a Green Party ECC member, said: “I am concerned us being too optimistic over the knock-on effects of ports.
“It is sensible and a good thing to have the preparation in terms of trade readiness.
“But have any scenarios been looked at especially the A12 and A120?
“If we did have significant problems with ports and particularly the A120 on the approaches to Harwich, I’m thinking of lorries parked up in laybys, queues.
“Even if it is shortterm has the council got plans for management of traffic?”
Mr Surtees said: “I can’t comment on the specific issue of the A13 but what I can say say is that there is the awareness of the need to manage roadworks which are in place.”
He added: “We do have a different nature of port at Thames Gateway. The focus has been on the roll on roll off ports because of the very quirk turnaround you are expecting.
“Thames Gateway is predominantly container traffic therefore a different operation in which containers are offloaded, moved and then cleared through.
“There has not been a national focus on container ports as potentially having the type of disruption as there might be with roll on roll off.”