Brian Yeardley Continental has warned that the closure of the Folkestone Harbour and Alconbury truckstops, combined with the shutting down of French truckstops near Calais, could force UK drivers to exceed driving hours.
Hauliers have suffered a slew of truckstop closures in recent weeks, in the UK and France.
The A1(M) Alconbury truck stop closed earlier this month, after owner Maritime Transport’s decision to use it for its own, expanding fleet. This was followed by news that Folkestone Harbour truck stop will shut in April as part of plans to regenerate the harbour.
Sanef, the French motorway operator, is to temporarily close four rest areas on the A16 and A26 until the end of June, due to a rise in migrants returning to Calais after the closure of the migrant camp in September last year.
Brian Yeardley Continental MD Kevin Hopper criticised Folkestone Council for not taking hauliers’ needs into consideration when granting planning permission for the Folkestone Harbour regeneration scheme.
“No one seems to care about what happens to the firms using this site but this and the Alconbury site were two major parking areas for our business, where our drivers could park safely and securely before making morning deliveries in the south of England. Where are they supposed to park now?”
Pointing to the closure of the truck stops in France and the return of migrants to the Calais area, Hopper added: “Clearly our needs have not been taken into account at Folkestone. My drivers are instructed to park four hours out of Calais to avoid any migrants and I am not going to endanger their security by instructing them to park any closer.
"But now the Folkestone Harbour parking facilities are closing, that could force drivers returning via Calais to exceed their driving hours [when] trying to find an alternative parking site to Folkestone, but no one seems to care about that.”
The FTA voiced concerns about the closure of the French truck stops this week. Deputy chief executive James Hookham said: “Legally, drivers have no choice but to stop when it’s time to take a break and it’s vital they can park in secure areas where their trucks will be safe.
“Closing these rest areas means drivers will be forced to find alternative unsecured stopping points, which could put them at risk of migrants boarding their vehicles, potentially causing damage to their trucks, writing off their loads and leading to heavy and unnecessary fines for their employers.
"Drivers could even be at risk of attack from particularly desperate individuals.”