PML MD Mike Parr (pictured) has waded into the escalating dispute over Kent County Council's plan to ban trucks from parking in several areas of Kent for more than 45 minutes.

The logistics specialist is working on ways to tackle the issue, he said, amid serious health and safety concerns.

A temporary ban introduced in January in seven Kent boroughs was widely criticised, with Logistics UK complaining that both the DfT and the council had failed to consider the welfare of lorry drivers.

The move was seen as necessary to avoid lengthy post-Brexit queues when the UK exited the European Union. But KCC has now launched a consultation to make the draconian order permanent and prohibit vehicles over 5 tonnes from waiting on any road in the boroughs of Ashford, Maidstone, Swale and the districts of Canterbury, Dover, Thanet and Folkestone & Hythe.

"PML whole-heartedly supports the over-arching concerns of Logistics UK, regarding the banning of lorry parking for more than 45 minutes at a time in laybys across several areas of Kent, which effectively reduces the opportunity for drivers to take the legally required rest period," Parr said.

"No driver would opt for a layby as their first choice for a rest break, we’d always recommend drivers park up in a location which represents a safe and secure stopping point, preferably with easy access to suitable toilet and wash facilities and of course, a good meal.

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"With such a significant shortage of HGV parking facilities in Kent, these drivers have limited options at the moment and while we appreciate Kent County Council don’t want to have lorries blocking laybys, surely more needs to be done to provide these drivers - who are the lifeline to maintaining essential food & drink as well as medical supplies to the UK – with a more fit for purpose parking solution?

"As a leading player in the efficient transfer of perishable cargo we believe this is an important industry issue that needs addressing as a matter of urgency. PML is currently working on a plan to resolve the problems in Kent. Watch this space."

Logistics UK said the ban "contravenes the working rights of logistics workers".

In a letter to MP Rachel Maclean, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Transport (DfT), Heidi Skinner, policy manager for south said: “Lorry drivers were deemed 'essential' workers during the pandemic, but it seems that this has been forgotten in this latest directive.

"Logistics UK is urging the DfT to consider the welfare of these drivers – who work tirelessly to transport the goods and services the nation needs – and withdraw support for KCC’s order banning HGV parking in laybys across several of Kent’s boroughs and districts.

"Lorry drivers need access to parking spaces to rest – for both their welfare and to meet legally mandated rest periods from driving – but with a shortage of between 1,000 and 1,200 HGV parking spaces in Kent, it is unacceptable to prohibit the use of laybys for drivers without providing facilities elsewhere."

The RHA has previously described the plan as "ludicrous" and "an abuse of process".