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Sky’s new series Urban Myths, Les Dawson’s Parisienne Adventure looks at ‘unknown’ part of his life

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skys new series urban myths les dawsons parisienne adventure looks at unknown part of his life

Paris in the fifties, and in a dimly lit bar a young man tinkles the same tune on the piano over and again. 

He looks forlorn, with a hangdog expression that – years later – the British public will come to know and love.

It’s a snapshot from a charming new episode of Urban Myths, the Sky series which puts a comedic spin on a host of scandalous, surprising and surreal urban legends involving the arts world’s most iconic figures.

This one tells the true story of the much-loved comedian Les Dawson’s decision to move to Paris as a young man to pursue his dream of becoming a serious novelist.

Urban Myths, the Sky series, tells the true story of the much-loved comedian Les Dawson’s decision to move to Paris as a young man to pursue his dream of becoming a serious novelist. Pictured, Les Dawson with wife Tracy Dawson and newborn daughter Charlotte in 1992

Urban Myths, the Sky series, tells the true story of the much-loved comedian Les Dawson’s decision to move to Paris as a young man to pursue his dream of becoming a serious novelist. Pictured, Les Dawson with wife Tracy Dawson and newborn daughter Charlotte in 1992

After a failed attempt to become a writer in a bold move to Paris, France, much-adored Dawson ended up becoming a pianist in a brothel before he found success

After a failed attempt to become a writer in a bold move to Paris, France, much-adored Dawson ended up becoming a pianist in a brothel before he found success

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as he planned, and he ended up becoming a pianist in a brothel – not quite what he anticipated, but rich pickings for the show’s writer Steve Pemberton, who drew from the late entertainer’s autobiographies to paint a picture of this relatively unknown period in the life of what he calls ‘Les Dawson before he was the Les Dawson we all know.’

‘I thought it was just really interesting to look at the man before as it were, and how does someone find their voice,’ Pemberton says. 

‘To focus on this period in his life, in his early twenties, when he went to live in Paris, and he wanted to become a serious writer, and he spent a while there.

‘No one knows exactly how long, but he came back with his tail between his legs having failed to be a writer and he tried again to go into comedy and play the working men’s clubs.

‘I think he was, if not 40, then certainly knocking on 40 by the time he became the Les Dawson that we all know, but there were many years of struggle in the working men’s clubs and these adventures like going to Paris and deciding to be a literary figure. 

‘Hopefully, this will send people back to find out a bit more about him and his life.’

The new series puts a comedic spin on a host of scandalous, surprising and surreal urban legends involving the arts world’s most iconic figures. Pictured, Mark Addy (left) and John Bradley (right) who were cast to play the comedian throughout his life

The new series puts a comedic spin on a host of scandalous, surprising and surreal urban legends involving the arts world’s most iconic figures. Pictured, Mark Addy (left) and John Bradley (right) who were cast to play the comedian throughout his life

The show’s writer Steve Pemberton drew from the late entertainer’s autobiographies to paint a picture of a relatively unknown period in the life of what he calls ‘Les Dawson before he was the Les Dawson we all know'

The show’s writer Steve Pemberton drew from the late entertainer’s autobiographies to paint a picture of a relatively unknown period in the life of what he calls ‘Les Dawson before he was the Les Dawson we all know’

Dawson died in 1993 at the relatively young age of just 62, leaving behind his widow Tracy and then eight month old daughter Charlotte (he had three older children by his first wife Margaret). 

Tracey and Charlotte, both of whom gave their blessing to the project, attended part of the filming and even gave actor Mark Addy – who plays the older Dawson, reflecting on this period in his life – one of Dawson’s signet rings to wear for his scenes.

They also brought along Dawson’s original diary from his time in Paris.

‘It was incredible to see, in this tiny pocket diary, and it felt so vital and it felt like it was with us there in the room,’ says Pemberton. 

‘You can tell that when he was writing his autobiography, he was referring back to his diaries anyway because a lot of what was in there he had put in his autobiography.’

The challenge for the actors, meanwhile, was trying to capture the essence of Dawson rather than lapse into impersonation. 

Dawson died in 1993 at the relatively young age of just 62, leaving behind his widow Tracy and then eight month old daughter Charlotte, as well as three older children by his first wife Margaret

Dawson died in 1993 at the relatively young age of just 62, leaving behind his widow Tracy and then eight month old daughter Charlotte, as well as three older children by his first wife Margaret

The series writer said he hopes the programme will send people back to find out a bit more about Les Dawson and his life before he became a household name. Pictured, John Bradley playing a young Les Dawson

The series writer said he hopes the programme will send people back to find out a bit more about Les Dawson and his life before he became a household name. Pictured, John Bradley playing a young Les Dawson

‘You’re not trying to look exactly like him,’ says Addy, who describes Dawson as a ‘comedy legend’ who always allowed his audience to feel in safe hands.

‘Things like the signet ring do a great job of making you feel like him, but it’s capturing him through the delivery of lines and trying to get the voice right, and that hangdog delivery.’

We meet Addy’s Dawson at the piano in an empty television studio, from which he recalls his youthful adventures in Paris. 

‘It keeps cutting back and forth, and at the very end, you realise that he’s in the studio doing a rehearsal for the ‘An Audience with Les Dawson’ which was due to happen before he died,’ he says.

Pemberton admits Addy was at the forefront of his mind for the older Dawson, but that casting the young Dawson was ‘trickier’. 

He opted for 32-year-old John Bradley, who will be well known to Game of Thrones fans as Jon Snow’s companion Samwell Tarly in the epic saga.

‘I knew that I wanted it to be about this young 20-odd year old Les Dawson who wouldn’t necessarily be this kind of paunchy, gravel voiced man,’ says Pemberton.

‘It’s an embryonic Les Dawson. John was one of the suggestions. We met him for a coffee and loved him. And his dad’s from Collyhurst, which is where Les Dawson grew up and we just felt it was meant to be.’

Tracey and her daughter Charlotte both gave their blessing to the project and attended part of the filming and even gave actor Mark Addy one of Dawson’s signet rings to wear for his scenes. Pictured, Les and his wife Tracy Dawson

Tracey and her daughter Charlotte both gave their blessing to the project and attended part of the filming and even gave actor Mark Addy one of Dawson’s signet rings to wear for his scenes. Pictured, Les and his wife Tracy Dawson

Steve Pemberton said he found casting the younger Les Dawson 'trickier' and in the end opted for 32-year-old John Bradley, (pictured playing Les in the new series) best known to Game of Thrones fans as Jon Snow’s companion Samwell Tarly

Steve Pemberton said he found casting the younger Les Dawson ‘trickier’ and in the end opted for 32-year-old John Bradley, (pictured playing Les in the new series) best known to Game of Thrones fans as Jon Snow’s companion Samwell Tarly

For Bradley, the challenge of steeping into Dawson’s younger man shoes was trying to envisage the man’s presence without any visual clues. 

‘Les Dawson is a persona that everybody is so familiar with, but there’s only real extensive documentary evidence of that from his forties onwards, so any time before that is a lot of guesswork,’ he says. 

‘From some of his writing from earlier on you do get a flavour of where he was intellectually and what his likes and dislikes were from that, but in terms of his kind of demeanour, there’s a lot of guesswork going on.’

His father’s Collyhurst roots helped. ‘My dad comes from exactly the same part of Manchester, Colliers, that Les came from, so just from my dad’s anecdotal description of what it was like I know exactly what that world was like, and what a product of that world was like,’ he says,. 

‘It was a very tough environment and people didn’t necessarily have a lot of patience with people who thought they were above it. 

‘So, to be in that environment and have these aspirations, I kind of know where this character started from and why he came to Paris and what the motivations were.’

Actor John Bradley, who plays the younger Les Dawson, said the challenge of steeping into Dawson’s younger shoes was trying to envisage the man’s presence without any visual clues

Actor John Bradley, who plays the younger Les Dawson, said the challenge of steeping into Dawson’s younger shoes was trying to envisage the man’s presence without any visual clues

The actor said his father’s Manchester Collyhurst roots helped him get into character and figure out just what it was like to grow up in that world. Pictured, Steve Pemberton and John Bradley

The actor said his father’s Manchester Collyhurst roots helped him get into character and figure out just what it was like to grow up in that world. Pictured, Steve Pemberton and John Bradley

Madam Gaudin is played with verve by Darling Buds of May’s Pam Ferris, complete with ill-fitting wig

Madam Gaudin is played with verve by Darling Buds of May’s Pam Ferris, complete with ill-fitting wig 

Whether or not Dawson used a degree of poetic licence when he documented his time in Paris can only ever be guessed at, but Pemberton believes it to be largely true. 

‘He definitely did go and he found a job playing the piano in this bar, and he could never understand why the bar was sometimes full of men and sometimes completely empty and no one seemed to stay and have a drink; people were always passing through, and he just was told to play the same tune over and over again,’ he says.

‘And he later found out he was playing in a brothel and upstairs the trade was going on and his job was just to keep playing the piano. And he had to play the same tune over again, which was Limelight from the Charlie Chaplin film because it would drive the people out. ‘

‘I mean he doesn’t talk at length about this time in his life, but I felt there was a freedom to write it the way I wanted it, but he talks about meeting this beautiful barmaid, Emerald, and he talks about the Madam who worked there who would come and hum along with him and wore a beautiful red dress.’

Step forward Madam Gaudin, played with verve by Darling Buds of May’s Pam Ferris, complete with ill-fitting wig. 

Whether or not Dawson used a degree of poetic licence when he documented his time in Paris can only ever be guessed at, but Pemberton believes it to be largely true

Whether or not Dawson used a degree of poetic licence when he documented his time in Paris can only ever be guessed at, but Pemberton believes it to be largely true

‘We juggled about with the idea of wigs and no wigs, and we talked about turbans quite a lot because glamorous turbans were fashionable,’ she says with a smile. 

‘But something happened when I put that wig on – everybody can see it’s a wig, but you don’t mention it. I knew people like that 20, 30 years ago – people used to walk around with terrible wigs on. So, she’s not getting away with it, but I like that, I love that look.’

While Gaudin’s character is not fleshed out in the diaries, Ferris said she allowed her imagination to fill in the gaps. 

‘I should think this is a very common practice – of someone who was a prostitute who probably gets too old for it finds a way of running some kind of a bar or something,’ she reflects. 

‘I’ve imagined that she’s in the world of prostitution from younger and that her contacts have blurred having to be a madam rather than a career madam, as it were, and she’s definitely too old for it now – although she may have a regular or two, for all I know.’

We meet Addy’s Dawson at the piano in an empty television studio, from which he recalls his youthful adventures in Paris

We meet Addy’s Dawson at the piano in an empty television studio, from which he recalls his youthful adventures in Paris

Pemberton, meanwhile, allowed himself the indulgence of a cameo as the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who Dawson talks about in his autobiography.

‘I thought wouldn’t it be fun if we had Les Dawson having a conversation with Jean Paul Sartre?’ he confides. 

‘And it’s almost like it’s not really happening, it’s in his head, at his lowest ebb, this existential ‘’who am I?’’, this young man struggling to find out what he wanted to do, struggling to find his voice.’

And when it came, it came by accident. ‘It wasn’t until this one night in Hull which we also reference in the programme, where he got so drunk he went on stage and didn’t do his normal act, which was playing quite a jazzy piano and trying to be quite show business-like. 

‘He was miserable and he just said, “Well, it’s nice to be here in this renovated fish crate. What an audience. I’ve seen more life in a tramp’s vest.” And he was just speaking about his own misery about getting nowhere, failing as a writer, failing as a comedian,’ Pemberton says. 

‘And the more miserable he was, the more the audience laughed, they loved him, and so that’s the night he says that he found his comic voice.’|

Yet nor did he ever give up on his writing, penning several novels and telling his widow ‘’always remind them – I was a writer too.’ 

‘Tracy Dawson said he wanted to be remembered as a writer,’ says Pemberton. ‘ So, I hope this will change people’s opinion of him, showing that he did have literary aspirations and he did bring that out in his comedy.’

Urban Myths: Les Dawson’s Parisienne Adventure will air on Sky Arts on 7th October at 10pm, now available for everyone to watch on Freeview Channel 11.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Woman seeks ‘hero’ Ryanair passenger who paid her £50 luggage charge 

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woman seeks hero ryanair passenger who paid her 50 luggage charge

A mother says she is desperate to track down the Good Samaritan who stepped in to pay her oversized luggage charge after staff ruled her bag was too big for the cabin.

The ‘hero’ was filmed footing the £50 bill for the ‘distressed’ passenger by a fellow flyer as travellers were attempting to board a flight from Ibiza to Stansted. 

Stephanie, who only wanted to use her first name, told MailOnline how she has tried to get in touch with the man who helped but was told he wanted to remain anonymous.

The mother-of-three, who lives on the Spanish island but had made a short trip back to see family in the UK earlier this week, said she was initially told by airport staff there was no need to check in the bag, only to later be told it was too big and that she had to pay a charge.

‘The plane was half-full so I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t take my bag or put it in the hold,’ she said.

‘I was told I had to pay on card but I only had cash with me, so paying it was impossible. I don’t travel a lot and it’s been a long time since I’ve been on the plane, plus with everything that’s going on, you can see on the video that I’m quite anxious.

‘This kind man turned around and said he would pay for me – it was an amazing act of kindness that he really didn’t need to do. He literally came out of nowhere, it was a crazy experience.

‘If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to take my kids away for the weekend. Once we got on the plane he was a few rows back from me and I wanted to go over and give him a hug, but because of Covid I couldn’t.’

Stephanie, who has twins aged nine and another one-year-old, revealed she has been in touch with the passenger who filmed the incident to try and track down her Good Samaritan, but to no avail thus far.

She said: ‘Apparently he wants to remain anonymous. I just want to have a chat with him because I don’t think he realises how nice a gesture it was and how much it meant to me.’  

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate.

A Ryanair passenger stepped in to pay the 'ridiculous' baggage fee for a stressed out mother at Ibiza Airport

The 'hero' was filmed footing the £50 bill for the 'distressed' mother-of-three, after staff deemed her bag too big to be carried on board

A Ryanair passenger stepped in to pay the ‘ridiculous’ baggage fee for a stressed out mother at Ibiza Airport. The ‘hero’ was filmed footing the £50 bill for the ‘distressed’ mother-of-three, after staff deemed her bag too big to be carried on board

The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other.

The clearly overwhelmed mother puts her hands to her head and begins anxiously raking them through her hair.

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: ‘It’s alright, it’s alright.’

The exasperated mother looks at him gratefully, burying her face in her hands again as he tries to soothe her.

As she starts to cry, the man says to her: ‘Don’t worry I’ll pay for you.’

The good Samaritan then approaches the desk and willingly hands over his card for payment.

As it processes, a man asks if Ryanair has recently changed their baggage allowance sizing.

The older of the mum’s two children tries to calm his brother, saying: ‘No no mama is upset’ as the mum tries to compose herself. 

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate. The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other

In the video, the young man who paid the bill can be seen checking his phone near the boarding gate. The camera pans to reveal the stressed mother, whose two children are chasing each other

The clip ends with the generous stranger waiting for his payment to complete.

The touching moment was posted on Twitter by a fellow passenger, who shared the video and said: ‘Well done to this young hero for paying the ridiculous Ryanair baggage charges for a distressed mother travelling with three kids (who wasn’t getting any leniency from ground staff).

‘The flight from Ibiza to Stansted was half empty, not sure what difference a few cm would make.’

Ryanair’s cabin baggage rules stipulate that luggage must fit under the seat in front and can be no bigger than 40x20x25cm. 

Oversized baggage is placed in the hold of the plane for a fee of £50.  

The video, which has since been viewed hundred of thousands of times, has earned the gentleman heaps of praise.

One wrote: ‘What a legend! Karma will see him good.’

Another added: ‘There’s hope for humanity.’

A third wrote: ‘Well done young man.’

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: 'It's alright, it's alright' before paying the charge for her

Seeing her distress, the kind-hearted stranger turns around and reassures her, saying: ‘It’s alright, it’s alright’ before paying the charge for her

The passenger later added: ‘Great kid isn’t he? No idea who he is though, kept himself to himself and acted honourably and discreetly without a fuss.’

Speaking today, the 46-year-old traveller who filmed the moment said: ‘As far as I could tell, the mother with her children had got caught out with a bag that exceeded the allowance on her ticket.

‘She was upset and rather tearful while also trying to keep an eye on her kids.

‘By the time I figured out what was going on, a young man stepped up to the ground handling staff and was heard to say ‘it’s okay, I’ll pay’.

‘The man preferred to remain anonymous.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Olympian Allyson Felix Breaks Usain Bolt’s Record—10 Months After Emergency C-Section

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Brexit: Photos show 27-acre Kent field being turned into lorry park

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brexit photos show 27 acre kent field being turned into lorry park

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed ‘Farage’s Garage’ being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks in case of mass hold-ups at Dover before the Brexit transition period ends this year.  

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December.

Upon completion, the vast site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for up to 2,000 trucks should delays arise for vehicles crossing the Channel. 

However, it is hoped vehicles will not need to be stored on the land and will be a ‘customs checking site’ by July. 

Some 29 lorry parks are expected to be built across England in order to cope with potential post-Brexit border trading chaos as hopes of a UK-EU free trade deal are repeatedly dashed. 

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  

The sites have been planned because of fears that truck drivers will face long delays to enter the EU.  

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed 'Farage's Garage' being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks

Drone photos show a vast 27-acre Kent field dubbed ‘Farage’s Garage’ being turned into a lorry park for up to 2,000 trucks

Upon completion, the site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for 1,700 lorries

Upon completion, the site will be used for HMRC customs checks, with an area available as a holding space for 1,700 lorries

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named 'Nigel's Folly' while others recommend 'Farage's Garage'

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named ‘Nigel’s Folly’ while others recommend ‘Farage’s Garage’

A petition and online campaign are currently calling for the facility in Kent to be named after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with some suggesting it be named ‘Nigel’s Folly’ while others recommend ‘Farage’s Garage’. 

French minister threatens to veto Brexit trade deal if it does not protect ‘our interests’ and claims Britain is BLUFFING about being ready to walk away without an agreement as talks resume in London 

A senior French minister warned that the EU would not accept a trade deal if it did  not protect ‘our interests’ – and claimed the UK was bluffing about walking away from talks. 

French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said that all bets were off if Britain had ‘not shown sufficient movement’ amid a continuing stand-off over fishing rights in British waters.

The issue has emerged as the last remaining real stumbling block to a deal being complete before the end of the transition period on December 31. 

Post-Brexit trade talks between the UK and European Union will continue in London on Friday as Michel Barnier said both sides have a ‘common responsibility’ to strike a deal.

The European Union’s chief negotiator continued discussions with his UK counterpart Lord Frost as the deadline for an agreement looms.

Speaking to French Television, Mr Beaune said: ‘We thought the end of October was the final deadline. We are giving ourselves a few more days to give the negotiations a chance, but we need to know quickly.

‘Michel Barnier has several days ahead of him where he is going to negotiate and then he will talk to us.

He is going to tell the head of state and government of the EU27: ‘Here is a deal, and I think it is a good one’ – and then we have to evaluate it. Or: ‘I think the British have not shown sufficient movement to reach an agreement that protects our interests and then it’s no deal.’ 

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The Change.org petition, which has received thousands of signatures, says that ‘everyone should genuinely be able to refer to this diesel soaked Valhalla as Nigel’s Folly’, adding: ‘It may be that Mr Farage will be unable or unwilling to attend the unveiling of this great honour that we do him, but that shouldn’t get in the way of seeing his name gurn plastered all over the boundary fence at regular intervals.’ 

While it is not clear if construction of any other sites has begun, an existing carpark in Gravesend, which has been used as a coronavirus testing facility, is set to be turned into a customs check point.  

There are fears the UK could leave the EU without a free trade deal following the Brexit transition period, which could cause significant delays in vehicles crossing the border.  

It was previously claimed that a failure to strike a Brexit deal by Boris Johnson’s October deadline could mean up to 7,000 lorries would be forced to queue up ahead of crossing the Channel.   

It emerged in July that the Department for Transport was looking to purchase the land in preparation for any potential trade disruptions as a result of Brexit.  

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean later confirmed the move, adding there were ‘two primary uses’ for the land. 

She said: ‘First, government departments envisage using it as a permanent site for facilities related to future border processes, notably HMRC (as an office of departure/arrival for goods moved under ‘transit’ arrangements) and Defra (as a border control post for goods needing sanitary and phytosanitary checks).

‘Second, the site may also be used as a contingency lorry holding area for the particular, foreseeable risk of significant disruption at the end of the transition period.’ 

Ms Maclean added Downing Street had ‘no intention’ the site would become a permanent lorry holding facility for use in the event of ‘cross-Channel disruption’. 

The photos have appeared amid news that toilets and food and drink facilities for haulage drivers will line the M20 in Kent in preparation for the 7,000 lorries predicted to be stuck in static traffic on January 1.  

With two-day-long queues expected to halt the industry when the EU implement full import controls on the UK at the start of next year, industry executives have demanded that provisions be made for the welfare of drivers.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, who will be meeting with Michael Gove, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on Friday said: ‘The devil is in the detail, we need to understand, will there be Portaloos down the M20? Will we be able to get water and food to drivers?  

‘We want that clarity out of Friday’s meeting to make sure that level of detail is being considered.’ 

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December

The development, next to Junction 10a in Ashford, Kent, is being constructed by the Government as it prepares for the negotiation period with the European Union to conclude in December

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

Locals will not have a say in the construction of the sites which are being built in Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Solihull, Kent, Essex, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (pictured, aerial view of the site near Sevington in Ashford, Kent)

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

A view of the area near Sevington in Ashford, Kent, where the Government is developing the 27-acre site near the town

Discussing the number of trucks expected to be held on their way to UK ports Mr Burnett said: ‘There’s going to be 2,000 trucks on the M20, 2,000 trucks on Mojo in Ashford, another site, and potentially 4,000 in Manston.’ 

Richard Ballantyne, CEO of British Ports Association, said that the ‘risk’ of queues at ports following January 1 ‘doesn’t have to be realised if the government takes a pragmatic approach’.

He added: ‘We are waiting for clarity of what support [facilities] drivers will have who are in these queues. This is not just about Kent, it’s facilities across the country.

‘What are those facilities and infrastructure going to be for drivers who are stuck in queues across the country – something we will touch on Friday.’

Speaking in a committee on Brexit preparedness in the transport sector Rachel Maclean MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport said: ‘It is absolutely vital we consider the welfare of drivers and hauliers as these are hardworking people, we rely on the haulage industry for a supply of critical goods and we must consider their welfare. 

‘We have detailed plans for provision of not only portaloos but other facilities for drivers, not only in Kent if there is stationary traffic, but other places in the country.’

Maclean said: ‘We are working in a lot of detail with the Kent Resilience Forum. We will be drawing on a combination of temporary lorry holding at A20 Dover TAP [Traffic Assessment Project] site, M20 between junction 8 and 9 and off-road sites and also we are procuring some temporary lorry holding capacity at Ashford, Sevington, the wider plan will feed all of that into using those sites if it becomes necessary if Operation Brock is active.’

The committee also raised the issue of the severe limits expected to face UK hauliers if bilateral agreements with EU member states are not made, or delayed, in the case of a no deal. 

Toilets will line the M20 as part of 'Operation Brock'

Toilets will line the M20 as part of ‘Operation Brock’

Industry leaders warned that up to 39,000 UK haulage trucks could be rendered unusable after January 1 due to the limited number of ECMT permits allowed. 

Only 1 in 4 UK haulage companies (or 2,000 of the 8,000 UK haulage companies) will qualify for an ECMT permit.  

Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK said: ‘There is a planned glide path to reciprocal arrangements – some reassurance that there won’t be a sudden market failure in this area.’

‘The ECMT permit system gives very little reassurance so it’s really important bilateral agreements are made. As only [2,000 of 8,000 UK hauliers] 1 in 4 UK hauliers could get a permit and they could only do one journey at a time with this permit.’

If bilateral agreements are not put in place the limits on ECMT permits could see UK facing a risk to it’s supply chain, said Mr Burnett.  

He added: ‘From my perspective ECMT is not a solution if we don’t get the right deal. It’s also fair to say bilateral arrangements are going to take some time to negotiate with each member states.

‘This equates to around 39,000 trucks, a significant gap for EU hauliers to access Europe in the event of ECMT.’

During the committee all three industry representatives suggested they had not been provided with enough ‘clarity’ to properly prepare for January 1. 

Mr Burnett of the Road Haulage Association said: ‘At this stage there is evidence that business are not prepared. 

‘The haulage industry works with its customers to make sure they are prepared and in a poll last week 91 per cent felt they didn’t have the clarity needed to be able to prepare.

‘It is happening too slowly at this moment in time.’

What is a ECMT permit? 

The permit, European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), allows travel through the European Union (minus Cyprus) and to the countries of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. 

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‘At the moment we are seeing more and more EU hauliers holding back, suggesting they may not even trade or come to the UK from January 1 depending on the potential chaos, in terms of business processes, backload availability and queues, but that’s going to be a growing challenge for the market.

‘If we don’t strike the right deal with the right access it may be a risk to our own supply chain. Through the Covid pandemic for instance, when we had a shortage of drivers in Italy and Spain we had to send UK vehicles to pick up more volume and bring it back, if we don’t have the right deal this could be a risk to our supply chain if EU hauliers do stand and decide not to come.’ 

Mr Burner called a meeting held with Mr Gove a ‘wash out’ after it ‘broke down’ with 40 people on the round table raising ‘personal issues’ 

While it is hoped new ‘offices of departure’ across the country which will be used to process and stamp paper work will stop traffic from ‘funnelling into Kent’, Mr Ballantyne added ‘there may be queues there too.’ 

He said that he expects traffic to peak at Dover and the Euro Tunnel, in Folkestone. 

Mr Ballantyne said that he supported the Government’s new boarder crossing IT system, GVMS, ‘in principle’ but said that the 54 days left to implement it was a ‘very short time scales to get the industry used to it’. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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