Hampshire & Isle of Wight

No-deal Brexit fear prompts Solent councils' motorway jam warnings

Portsmouth International Port Image copyright Google
Image caption Any more than 13 lorries queuing at Portsmouth Port would begin to block traffic on the M275, council leaders have warned

The need for longer customs checks at cross-Channel ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit may lead to more motorway congestion, council bosses have warned.

Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and Isle of Wight councils have raised concerns with the transport secretary.

In a joint statement, they said local authorities and emergency services were "coordinating their preparations".

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March.

The four council leaders have written to transport secretary Chris Grayling and requested help from Highways England and the Ministry of Defence, which owns land that could be used as lorry holding spaces.

Portsmouth International Port processes up to 500 lorries a day travelling into Europe abroad and they warn that in the event of a "no-deal", just 14 of them waiting for clearance would begin to block traffic on the M275.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Queues of lorries left residents near the Port of Dover unable to get out to buy basic supplies in 2015

Kent County Council has already warned of 10,000 lorries parked or stacked on its roads if there are hold-ups at ports.

Nearly 55% of voters in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight backed leaving the EU in the June 2016 referendum. Almost 54% of voters in Southampton and 58% of voters in Portsmouth voted for the Leave campaign.

The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: "The issues Brexit will bring are going to affect more than one council area.

"By coordinating our efforts we can avoid duplication and minimise costs so no more money than necessary is diverted from already stretched council budgets and vital services."

Roy Perry, leader of the county council, said: "As a leading export county, I want to ensure that collectively, we do all we can to support international trade, jobs and businesses.

"We will continue developing our contingency plans to ensure that any potential short term adverse impact on local communities, is minimised."

MPs are due to vote on the UK's withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons later this month.

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