Avoid congestion, don’t plan for it, says Dover

Birmingham, UK: The Government should focus on avoiding transport congestion instead of planning for it, says Tim Reardon, head of EU exit, Port of Dover.

The UK Government must provide the logistics industry with clear and stable information so that it can invest in the right technological solutions to prepare for Brexit, he told delegates at Multimodal 2019.
The technology can be put in place to ensure a seamless supply chain in a ‘day one no deal’ situation, but companies cannot invest without knowing what the right system needs to be, he said.
“The technology is there as a tool, but this is a cart and horse situation: until we have defined what the process is that the technology needs to deliver, there isn’t much point in developing it,” Reardon said.
There was an urgent need for government to refocus and give a clear and stable definition of what the Customs process would be John Keefe, public affairs director, Eurotunnel, said. “All the energy is going into managing the negative consequences of ‘day one no deal’, very little energy is being put into avoiding those negative consequences,” he said.
Pauline Bastidon, head of global and European policy, Freight Transport Association, said there was a need for clarity. “This is probably the biggest challenge we have faced in a generation and the implications for logistics are huge.
“FTA is urging the Government to extend the easements granted pre-29th March, provide clear, end-to-end guidance to industry setting out the process and requirements on both sides of the borders and to work with the industry to increase the attractiveness of transit and Customs facilitations.”
Peter MacSwiney, chairman, ASM, said it was not surprising that people were hesitant to invest in technology without knowing if they were developing the appropriate solution. “The one thing we have lacked is certainty. How many businesses would spend thousands of pounds on a system that might not be right?
“If we knew what we were faced with, we could find solutions to deal with it.The technology is there, but we have to develop it and we should think in terms of five years and a minimum of three years to get it working and to train people to use it,” he said.
Shahar Ayash, managing director UK and Europe, Tigers, said that Brexit offered both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry. “We know that around 35% of the supply chain is taken up by the last mile and so Brexit can be seen as an opportunity for our industry,” he said.

“Tigers has invested in technology as well as warehousing in the UK and in Europe and we are advising customers to split their stock of goods.
“They will avoid congestion, but also, it makes more sense, it will mean a better service for their customers and there is an environmental aspect to this as well.”
Bastidon called on the industry to collaborate to find a solution. “A lot of people are spending a lot of time preparing, but not talking to other partners in the chain,” she said. “It is part of the problem; we need to encourage all partners to communicate and work together.”
Luis Gabiola, director commercial operations and logistics, Port of Bilbao Authority, said the relevant authorities need to be clear about how new regulations would work. “This is not a technology problem, but a regulation and processes issue, in terms of what is needed from the different Authorities, how these diverse institutions will communicate and what protocols, or law interpretations will be adapted, as there are significant disagreements at the moment.”
All were speaking at a panel debate at the Multimodal 2019 exhibition, held in Birmingham this week and hosted by Peter Ward, chief executive, UK Warehousing Association.

Ward said: “Once again Brexit turned conventional wisdom on its head. Usually at forums such as these the dispersal of information provides a level of comfort, but, according to a polling of the ‘standing room only’ audience, the number of delegates feeling unprepared for Brexit doubled during the hour-long discussion.”  


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