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Newspaper Columns

KM Column - M26 Closure - 18 October 2018

On 4 April of this year, I wrote to Chris Grayling MP, the Transport Secretary, to ask to meet with him urgently to calm my fears that the Government were considering using the M26 as part of a solution to Operation Stack. I made clear to him that it would be an unworkable solution, should it be tried, and asked him to let me know if ever it was seriously considered. I also asked for a thorough consultation with residents. Unfortunately, I never received a response to my letter, and heard no more about it until a few weeks ago, when I asked Highways England numerous times whether they were considering using the M26. They said it wasn’t even in the picture, as did the Department for Transport when I had asked them this year. 

You can therefore imagine my frustration and disbelief when works began last Wednesday with absolutely no warning, and no consultation. Later that evening, I received a call from Highways England, who confirmed to me that the Department for Transport had been instructed to begin works to increase the lorry holding capacity on the M26. 

I immediately raised this in the House of Commons to Chris Grayling to ask why works had begun to turn the M26 into a parking lot, with no consultation and no warning. Unsurprisingly, he could not give me an answer. I will be meeting with the Roads Minister, Jesse Norman MP, this week, to find out exactly what is going on and why neither the Government, nor Highways England, told anyone about these significant works.

In the meantime, the M26 will be closed between 8pm and 5am from 15 October until 19 October, and then again from 19 November until 29 March 2019, for ‘central reservation works’, though we know no more than that. It will cause chaos in the area, with villages like Borough Green and Platt already suffering significant traffic problems. These closures have come without warning or consultation and are unacceptable.

Georgie Welford