This week marked a major step forward in the essential work around improving our local road network.
Back in 2020 I secured a place in the national road programme for the A2 upgrade. Since then, I’ve been working hard with National Highways’ project team on this work – meeting with them regularly, so that they understand the vital importance of roads to us all in Dover and Deal.
This week, the next stage was announced which is a consultation to test community support for the investment and the possible routes. It’s still going to be a tough battle to secure the A2 upgrade. So Cllr Trevor Bartlett as leader of Dover District Council, Cllr Roger Gough as leader of Kent County Council and myself as the Member of Parliament have come together so we can do everything we can, at every level, to make our case for the A2 investment we have so long needed.
The A2 road improvements also have a national strategic purpose as well as a local one. Dover is uniquely placed in having not one, but two, motorways going direct to the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, who together account for about 60% of all trade with Europe. Keeping these routes resilient, strong and flowing is in the national interest.
It is also in our local interest. I have long been a tireless campaigner to ‘Keep Dover Clear’. That’s why I am also pressing for early works, ahead of any A2 upgrade, to improve the Whitfield roundabout. Works are also needed to improve the Duke of York roundabout to ease congestion from Deal towards Dover. The recent tragic death at Whitfield and the need to make the A258 as safe as possible reinforce the importance of this work.
The Keep Dover Clear campaign applies to all of Dover and Deal. The TAP traffic control system on the A20 approach into Dover is intended to stop lorries blocking up Dover town. It works and has been so much better for the town than some of the old days.
But TAP comes at a cost – the toll on the community of Aycliffe, where noise, rubbish, and honking horns is a real issue. Some residents can’t sleep properly when TAP is on. It was supposed to be a temporary fix in 2015, following the famous three-day long queues. It has now become permanent. I have pressed for it to be moved back. That has been reviewed and would need further works on the A20 to achieve.
The A2 upgrade will provide greater capacity and resilience on the A20/M20. I’ll keep on pressing for change to the TAP, and for better day to day controls so that we don’t see rat-running through Capel-Le-Ferne or over to the A2.
There’s much to do on roads. It will be a real fight to secure funding when national finances are once again constrained. I’ll continue to make our case for both shorter and longer-term investment for our roads.