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MPs decry secrecy and shortcomings in DfT’s Brexit plans

Words: Huw Morris
Port of Dover / iStock-157168858

MPs have voiced serious concerns over the government’s ‘slow progress and poor communication’ on Project Brock – the scheme to manage traffic and lorry-queuing at Dover after the UK leaves the EU.

The Department for Transport (DfT) plans to spend up to £35 million on Project Brock this year, but the Commons Public Accounts Committee says it has still to carry out proposed desk-based testing of the system, and its engagement with businesses has been poor.

“The secrecy around the department’s preparations, and the shortcomings in assurance on its progress, are a potentially toxic combination,” said committee chair Meg Hillier. “We accept the continued uncertainty over the final shape of Brexit adds to the complexity of the challenge. But the department’s Brexit work is simply too important to get wrong.

“It must be more open about what needs to be achieved, and work with business and others to deliver it. We urge it to respond meaningfully to our concerns in the weeks ahead.”

The committee said the risks associated with ‘no deal’ are severe “yet plans for avoiding disruption around major ports in particular are worryingly underdeveloped”. it said the DfT “seems happy to rely on Highways England to manage engagement with local stakeholders, but acknowledges this has not always worked well so far”.

The DfT does not liaise directly with other English ports and their related local authorities, telling the committee this is the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It has begun in-depth discussions with the Welsh Government, but not the Scottish Government.

Image credit | iStock