At the end of the year, the UK will leave the EU. Nowhere will the country’s readiness be more apparent than at the borders, where trade policy, logistics, infrastructure and security will all be tested to the limits.
In February 2019, we shared our concerns about the readiness of the UK’s ports after a failed £18m investment in Seaborne Freight sunk the plan to turn Ramsgate into a “second Dover”. Almost a year and a half later, is the UK any better prepared?
The government has announced £705m will be invested into the UK’s ports and surrounding infrastructure, with the goal of having fully operational border systems in place by 2021.
Of this £705m, the vast majority is going towards new infrastructure projects to expand the ports and provide overflow sites for customs checks and freight.
£20m has been marked for new security equipment and £10m on hiring additional Border Force staff. The comparatively low budget for security is concerning, but the proof will be in how effectively the money is spent rather than how much.
Looking further ahead, it is reported that Rishi Sunak plans to announce the opening of up to 10 freeports in the 18 months following Brexit. These freeports are areas exempt from usual customs law where goods can be imported, manufactured and re-exported without checks or tariffs.
Critics of freeports say they attract money launderers and counterfeiters and give an unfair advantage to companies that operate within them, while supporters say they will bring jobs to deprived areas.
Currently, the biggest challenge is one of time rather than budgets, with less than five months left until the UK leaves the EU and not a word yet said about how the land border in Northern Ireland will be managed.
Works have begun on the controversial 27 acre lorry park in Ashford, which is first concrete example we have of the new infrastructure being built to prepare the UK’s ports for the challenges of post-Brexit trading.
Unfortunately, the government’s rushed approach to this project does not inspire confidence. Residents were only informed that works would begin the day before and Ashford’s own MP, Damian Green, was not aware of the plans until they had already been confirmed. Ashford Borough Council has stated that a permanent lorry park “is not something we would support in any shape or form”.
The government offered reassurances that a lorry park is temporary and one of two uses for the site (the other being an HMRC customs site) but locals are understandably skeptical and worried that they will not have a say how the site is used – just as they did not have a say in its construction.
Temporary or not, a site where there are 2,000 lorries laden with valuables sitting overnight will require robust security to prevent theft, especially as lorries are a favourite target of organised crime.
Ashford’s lorry park will be one of many, as even with capacity for 2,000 lorries it will only be able to take on around a fifth of the expected burden.
We recommend all new lorry parks implement the following security measures and consider them during planning:
Magenta Security is well equipped to provide security staff, technology and consultancy to any sites opening in the UK. To get in touch, please call us on 0800 772 3786.
Magenta Security provide award winning security services throughout the UK. We are in the top 5% of ACS approved contractors and were the first security company in Europe to be awarded ISO 14001 for our environmental management systems.
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