The peak summer holiday getaway period is just around the corner. It’s vital we do all we can to keep our roads clear so residents and local businesses can get on with their daily lives. Much effort has gone into preparations to keep Dover clear and stop holiday getaway gridlock on our local roads. In meetings with the Port of Dover, Transport Ministers and the Kent Resilience Forum, I have set out how concerned we are that those preparations will be a success. This coming weekend will be a key test of those plans. The next two weekends are expected to be the busiest period for traffic since the pandemic.
More traffic on the roads invariably means more TAP for the long suffering residents of Aycliffe. People living in Aycliffe struggle to get a good night’s sleep when the TAP is on. Lorries rev their engines and honk their horns, all night long. I have been pressing ministers to take action to scrap the TAP system and move it back to the Courtwood junction. The Port and our local councils have been supportive of my persistent work on this.
National Highways have this week announced a very small step, namely the trial of a ‘quiet zone’ for the TAP next to Aycliffe. There will be a little sign asking lorry drivers not to honk their horns. It won’t stop them revving their engines – and probably won’t stop them honking their horns either.
We need to get to a position where we ‘Scrap Tap’ entirely. As everyone knows, the TAP system was introduced as a “temporary” measure back in 2015/16. The quiet zone proposal is not good enough and I will continue to press for TAP to be scrapped by moving it back to Courtwood.
Of course not everyone travels to Dover in a car or lorry. Many continue to arrive by small boat. This is why I’m backing a final push to get vital new laws passed before the summer. Last Tuesday, the Illegal Migration Bill returned to the House of Commons culminating in a long evening of votes to stop the ‘wrecking amendments’ from the House of Lords. The Illegal Migration Bill aims to stop the small boats crossings – against fierce opposition from the other main parties. With more votes due this week, I’m determined to stand firm for our area, to see an end to these dangerous and unlawful crossings.
A highlight of last week was to welcome to the Commons inspirational young women from Astor School. They presented policy suggestions to the Safeguarding Minister and Chair of the Equalities Select Committee. I was hugely impressed by the knowledge and maturity these young women showed throughout the day. They clearly really care about our community – they are an absolute credit to their school and East Kent as a whole.