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Council leader calls for police unit at ‘uncivilised’ Dartford Crossing as MP warns ‘people are going to die’

PUBLISHED: 12:17 12 September 2016 | UPDATED: 12:32 12 September 2016

Jeremy Kite has made fresh calls for change at the Dartford Crossing

Jeremy Kite has made fresh calls for change at the Dartford Crossing

Archant

It comes after hours of delays on Sunday night

Jeremy KiteJeremy Kite

Fresh fears have been voiced over the safety and function of the Dartford Crossing, following hours of traffic chaos last night.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has warned ‘a vulnerable person is going to die’ without urgent change at the crossing.

Suggestions for a police unit at the crossing, and criminal proceedings to follow lorry drivers who don’t get in the right lane, were made by council leader Jeremy Kite.

The calls come after drivers faced hours of delays on Sunday evening, when both tunnels were closed to traffic for ‘safety reasons’ following a reported power failure.

Cllr Kite, who has long-called for improvements to the crossing, made a fresh push for change in the wake of the chaos, which lasted until 10.30pm.

He said: “Situations like this are just the tip of the iceberg, it’s gotten so bad that people can’t even deal with a power failure.

“If it was anywhere else it would be a water cooler moment and you could say you were unlucky to be caught in it - but it isn’t like that, there’s always something - it’s uncivilised.”

Following the introduction of the DartCharge in 2014, calls have been made for money to be reinvested in improving the crossing, which often faces delays.

“The tunnel creates hundreds of millions of pounds, if we were to receive a small bit of that we could invest in improvements immediately.” continued Cllr Kite.

“A small police unit could be placed at the tunnel, which could deal with criminal activity on the M25, and when there’s a problem at the crossing, they can help manage the junctions and immunise the community from the problems of the M25.

“I’ve got a meeting with Kent Police to discuss just that in the coming weeks.”

Following suggestions for a constant police unit at the crossing, the Conservative councillor called for the introduction of criminal offences for bad drivers.

He said: “It needs to become a matter of criminal driving behaviour if lorries are in the wrong place when they reach the crossing as far as I’m concerned.”

Conservative MP Gareth Johnson met with Highways England chiefs today (Monday).

He said: “I had an urgent meeting with the Chief Executive of Highways England today and I told him that my fears that a vulnerable person is going to die whilst trapped in one of these lengthy traffic jams.

“In the past few months we have hundreds of letters from people complaining and I know they will be disappointed with Highways England continual claim that journey times are quicker with the free flow.

“I totally refute these claims, we need a contingency plan now, not next week or next year and I will be doing everything in my power to improve this situation for motorists.”

What do you think? Let us know at luke.may@archant.co.uk.

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