Portsmouth’s park and ride sliproad off M275 to be used for checking lorries’ paperwork in event of no-deal Brexit???????

A COUNCIL leader has slammed the government for a ‘pitiful’ grant that falls £1m short of what is needed to plan for Brexit in Portsmouth – as it is revealed that the park and ride sliproad could be used as a lorry checkpoint.

Sir Vince Cable, left, and Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council at Portsmouth International Port last month
Picture: Malcolm Wells (190108-1903)
Sir Vince Cable, left, and Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council at Portsmouth International Port last month Picture: Malcolm Wells (190108-1903)

At the end of January MP James Brokenshire, communities secretary, announced a cash injection of £56.6m to help all local authorities with Brexit preparations.

Portsmouth City Council, along with other unitary councils, is set to receive £210,000 as a result. A top-up of £1.5m was also set aside to be split between authorities with ports, although it is unclear how much of this the city will get.

According to council estimates, it will need to provide at least £1.3m for a Brexit contingency fund. It has allocated £500,000 in its reserves for this.

For council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, this was unacceptable. 'The government has messed this up so badly that they are forcing us to waste public money,' he said.

'I have been asked to approve spending of £1.3m to try to make sure there's some contingency plan just in case there's a no-deal Brexit. £210,000 doesn't come anywhere close to this.'

The most recent no-deal Brexit contingency plans set out by the council would involve stopping lorries on junction 1 of the M275, by the Park and Ride, to check documentation.

If everything is in order the lorries will be able to carry on to Portsmouth International Port to go to France. But any lorries without the correct paperwork will be directed to Tipner West until it is sorted out.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: 'We need to produce something that works and is not going to result in queues on the M275 and M27.

'If people haven't got the right documentation it will give us somewhere to put them until that can be sorted. But Tipner West can only fit 40 to 50 lorries. If there are more than that then there will be queues.'

He added: 'With Brexit now, because everything is so last-minute and so disorganised we are having to second-guess what might or might not happen.

'If only the government would sort this out so everyone knew what is going on.'

When announcing Brexit cash for councils Mr Brokenshire said: 'Local authorities have a critical role to play in making a success of Brexit in their areas.

'I’m determined to ensure councils have the resources they need, which is why I’m releasing £56.5m of extra finance to help them to deliver essential services and keep residents well-informed.

'I will continue to work closely with local leaders to ensure they are prepared to respond to any Brexit scenario.'