I often have to give presentations about Kent, and have a standard set of statistics to set the scene. But one of the most astonishing facts I've heard is that, if you took all the lorries on Kent roads and put them nose to tail, you'd have a seventeen mile tailback.
In fact, some days that's just what we do have - which is why Operation Stack uses the M20 as a lorry park when Channel crossings are cancelled or unreliable. Kent County Council has something of a reputation for thinking out of the box, and it was no surprise when we developed the idea of buying up land to create emergency lorry parks; take the vehicles off the motorway and let traffic move more freely. What's the problem with that?
However, I see from the BBC site (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/7320584.stm) that some Kent residents are less than happy about this prospect, particularly if it's anywhere near them.
It would be great to think that other counties and their police authorities might make some kind of provision to park up smaller numbers of lorries in a crisis - but all seem content to "funnel" the freight into Kent and leave us to get on with it. So in the meantime someone has to find a solution if we're to prevent the kind of gridlocked traffic of previous years.
And while we're on the subject, another amazing fact I was told recently is that one lorry causes the same wear and tear on a road surface as 100,000 cars. With foreign lorry drivers filling up their tanks in France because of the ridiculously high level of fuel tax imposed by this Government, it's about time that Government let Kent County Council get on with our solution there too - a BritDisc which charges foreign lorry drivers a levy for driving on our roads.