Operation Stack: Is there really an end in sight?

Editor’s Blog Posted 02/07/15
As traffic tailback misery brings parts of Kent to a standstill, the need to avoid future strikes becomes critical

First of all, I’d like to say ‘hello’ and introduce myself as the new Editor of South East Business. I’m delighted to be reporting on the region’s vibrant business community and what a first week it’s been.

If you need to use the M20 motorway or surrounding roads in Kent to get to work, attend meetings, transport goods – in fact, if you need to get anybody or anything anywhere – you’ve been out of luck for the last few days. Thanks to the industrial action over the water in Calais, Operation Stack entered its apocalyptic fourth stage, which seemed to translate into total gridlock from Maidstone to Dover.

I had the dubious pleasure of experiencing this firsthand when I attempted to attend Locate in Kent’s summer event in Maidstone one evening. Thanks to the traffic chaos, neither myself, nor the scheduled guest speaker, the Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment, were able to make it to the venue. This was a great disappointment and an example of how far-reaching the consequences of such action can be, but a very interesting replacement speaker stepped into the breach and you will still be able to read about the event in the August/September issue.

This tortuous state of affairs – combined with, by unlucky coincidence, the stifling heat we’ve experienced over the same period – must have led businesses to contemplate the feasibility of continuing to rely on this essential trade route between the UK and Europe.

It is, of course, the right of workers to protest against conditions that they feel are unfair or detrimental to their wellbeing, and it’s a right that has been hard-won over the centuries. However, what about the rights of British and European businesses that can ill afford such disruption to their schedules? Should foreign workers be permitted to continue holding British commerce to ransom? And where does the responsibility lie for preventing a repetition of this week’s traffic nightmare?

No doubt that debate has raged across many water coolers, boardroom tables and pub bars this week, as the South East suffered under the wheels of Operation Stack. Do get in touch and let us know your conclusions.

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