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Last Updated: Friday, 7 March 2008, 19:03 GMT
Police in appeal over M20 chaos
Operation Stack
Operation Stack is to remain in place until the strike ends
Kent Police have made a direct appeal to the public to help reduce disruption during Operation Stack, which has made the coastbound M20 a giant lorry park.

In a joint appeal with Kent County Council, they have asked people living and working in the county to consider whether their journeys are necessary.

Operation Stack has been in place for more than a week due to the ongoing SeaFrance ferry strike over pay.

Police have warned that it is likely to continue for some time to come.

Thousands of lorries waiting to cross the Channel have been parked on the M20 between junctions eight and nine since Operation Stack was implemented nine days ago, with traffic being diverted onto the A20.

Businesses affected

Police have warned that phase two of Operation Stack, from the Leeds Castle to Ashford junctions, is likely to be in place permanently until the strike ends.

However, they expect the situation to ease temporarily over the weekend.

They have said it has been the first time in the 20-year-history of Operation Stack that sections of the M20 have had to be closed for more than three days.

Phase one, between junctions 11 and 12 coastbound, is not in place as part of the current measure.

Hundreds of business owners in Kent have also said their trade has been affected because their shops and delivery services have become inaccessible.

SeaFrance ferry
SeaFrance ferries have been suspended since the strike began

David Silvey, who owns a hardware shop in the village of Lenham, said his trade was down by 50% this week.

Anne Hogg, landlady of The Dog and Bear Hotel, added that the SeaFrance dispute had affected everyone in the village.

"It's a knock-on effect for the whole community," she said.

Kent Police have asked everyone to think about whether they need to travel, especially at peak times when the freight queues are causing backlogs on other roads in the county.

They have also suggested people could use public transport instead, work from home, or share cars.

A statement from Kent Police, Kent County Council and partner agencies urged "the people of Kent to help their public services to join the effort to keep the county moving and open for business".

SeaFrance said the officers were striking in support of a pay increase equivalent to 25% over three years.

A spokeswoman said: "SeaFrance is working to end the action as soon as possible and contact between the parties is ongoing."

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