Is Operation Brock “illegal”?

Updated 06.10.22 @18:08

Again and again and again. The issue of traffic jams blocking up the M20 and local roads has gone on for more than two decades, and regardless of who has been in power, the issue occurs and reoccurs, as sure as night follows day.

It would appear though there might be a solution, and the solution can be found in a question put by Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee (Con) (pictured) on 10 Jan 2001, when she asks a question at Full Council, of the then leader of Shepway District Council (now Folkestone & Hythe District Council) Cllr Rory Love (Con) (pictured).

She asks:

For a long time, I have been working to seek relief for the people of Sellindge both from the noise of the motorway surface (soon to be added to by the high speed link) and from the effects of Operation Stack. Would the Leader of the Council update me on any progress on either of these issues, and can he assure me that the Council will take appropriate steps to help me achieve an early resurfacing of the motorway near Sellindge, as has recently happened at Ashford?

The response by Cllr Love was illuminating, especially the part relating to Operation Stack. He responds to this element of the question by saying:

As for Operation Stack, the disruption caused to residents, commuters, tourists and business is well documented, as is the tireless work by members of this Administration to get proper recognition that Kent’s Arterial transport problems are in fact national problems, and are the responsibility of central Government…

He goes onto say, and this is the important part:

To that end, I can announce for the first time tonight, that we have sought Counsel’s opinion on the legality of Operation Stack. That opinion has supported our view that the use of the M20 as a temporary lorry park in the circumstances under which Operation Stack is brought into effect constitutes an unlawful interference with the rights of motorway users. In short, the Police are breaking the law every time they introduce the procedure. Operation Stack is illegal!

Cllr Love, and the lawyers the Council employed for the opinion, were reliant on Part IX of the Highways Act 1980, especially s137 of the Act.

Operation Stack was deployed on 31 days in 2015. That’s how long the Gateway to Europe was Closed and the Continent isolated. That’s how long people were stuck in traffic.

Fast forward seven years and Op Stack has now become Op Brock. As we know, on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 July, 2022, the AA branded Folkestone the new “hotspot of holiday hell”; which saw thousands stuck in traffic as they awaited the beginning of their summer getaway.

We note at the full council meeting two days after the Telegraph headline, Cllr Stuart Peall (Con) was politely indignant about the blocking of the road arteries of Kent, and especially the district. He asked the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Keutenius (Lab), if she, and her committee, would look at this arterial blockage caused by Op Brock, and other issues, and devise, sensible, doable recommendations for the Cabinet and full council to consider and vote on, and on up to the DLUHC possibly.

To date, the meeting asked for by Cllr Peall, and accepted by Cllr Keutenius, as Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee has not yet been convened. No plan has been drawn up. We hope the public will be consulted, as Op Brock, further adds to the cost of living crisis, for those in the district. There is no plan to alleviate the ongoing paralysis of the arterial road network of Kent; which in short means they’ll be repeated closure of the Gateway to Europe — Continent Isolated, and untimely downturns in growth, across affected areas of Kent.

As the Council have previously hired lawyers to come up with a legal opinion that Operation Stack was “illegal”, they could, if so minded, do so again with regards to Operation Brock, as the issue is not one which will go away without postive action backed up with real money. It will continue to cause misery for tens of thousands of people, businesses, emergency services and growth.

It may, if allowed to continue, impact financially on Phase One of Otterpool Park. It might influence any decision regarding the KCC Expression of Interest in Investment Zones, they’ve submitted to the DLUHC; which includes the Gateway to Europe – Ashford, Folkestone and Dover. Traffic Jams the size of July 2022, repeatedly happening again will effect growth of the county. In fact according to a Survey of Kent Business Views on Operation_Brock  it already has. The survey took place between 21 – 31 July 2022.

It will continue to impact on the people who are in the district, as Emergency Services stuck in traffic. Carers who provide domicilary care to people in their homes – stuck in traffic.

Cllr Keutenius, the Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee is a domicillary care worker. She drives to clients homes, to dress them, feed them, and ensure their safety and well being – stuck in traffic.

Just think, no hospitality workers able to serve beer, or coffee, stuck in traffic.

Nurses and patients, Teachers and Pupils, stuck in traffic.

Gateway to Europe closed — Continent isolated.  Growth reduced.

We understand, it is not only our Folkestone & Hythe District Council who can make recomendations to resolve this problem. Our neighbours Council can do the same.  It will need to be an inter agency solution along with input from this Government. Minds should be focused, ambulance response times up, fire brigade response times up. The consequences of when Op Stack and now Op Brock are put in places, puts lives at substantial risk.

As we know, Lorry Parks are still a pipe dream and our local roads in Kent are all too often temporarily paraylised by the consequences of Op Brock, and other incidents; which on the face of it, would too be illegal. But we are not lawyers in this area, so it would need someone, anyone out there who might have this expertise, to take a good long hard look at this, as it would, we believe, need a legal action to prevent further reoccurrences of our fantastic district being described as the “Hotspot of Holiday Hell” and harming the growth of our district.

Cllr Michelle Keutenius (Lab) (pictured), the chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee has been contacted by our public face for comment, but at the time of publication, she had not responded.

The Shepway Vox Team

Not owned by Hedgefunds or Barons

About shepwayvox (1802 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email:

2 Comments on Is Operation Brock “illegal”?

  1. Remember that Hollingsbee had a personal interest in having the lorry park built.

  2. Unfortunately this is a case one more lane (induced demand). Brexit has slowed down more worse for the throughput of traffic due to the oven ready deal. In a more useful methodology would to have freight go through the Euro Tunnel. Large amounts of export goods being transported via rail. This is the same problem with peoples obsession of the car and traffic measures. It’s like in Cheriton when the store and car owners were worried about losing customers. Netherlands is a good place to study how to change towns and cities. At least the recent planned changes to town centre and seafront could improve things.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: