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April 2020 Removals & Storage 7
Extra 50,000 customs
staff needed for
post-Brexit red tape
Brexit head honcho Michael Gove has confirmed
that around 50,000 new customs agents will need
to be recruited to process the increased paperwork
for trade with the EU after the current transition
period ends on 1 January 2021.
Government sources have said that the new recruits will largely be intermediaries –
agents who help businesses process their export and import paperwork with HM
Revenue & Customs (HMRC). HMRC will also recruit government agents to process
the paperwork and guard against tariff evasion on borders.
Experts have warned it will be a challenge to train enough people in time to be
competent in the complexity of customs declarations as well as the entry and exit
safety declaration forms that are mandatory for goods movements to and from the EU.
France, the Netherlands and Ireland launched recruitment drives for customs officials
last year and consider six-month training schedules as a minimum.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) added that operators are still waiting to hear
from government exactly what customs procedures they need to prepare for from 1
January 2021 in order to minimise delays and additional costs.
It is estimated that businesses moving goods across borders will have to complete
more than 200 million extra declarations per year once customs formalities have been
reinstated between the UK and EU. At present this figure stands at 50 million and
covers Britain’s trade with non-EU states. By contrast, a fully trained and experienced
UK customs agent handles on average around 4,000 customs clearances per year.
Moveable M20 barrier
replaces Operation Brock
Highways England has developed a moveable concrete barrier to manage the
traffic disruption that could be caused in Kent by Brexit-related delays at the
Port of Dover after the current transition period ends on 31 December 2020.
According to Highways England, a specialist vehicle will be able to deploy
the barrier on the M20 within hours and with minimal disruption to
motorists. It says this is a marked improvement to its previous traffic
management system, Operation Brock, which required a month of overnight
closures to set up the metal barrier needed to enforce a contraflow system.
By replacing Operation Brock, the new solution also means that Highways
England has dropped plans to open a large lorry holding area at Kent’s
Manston Airport to reduce pressure on the M20.
The new system has been designed to ensure the M20 stays open at times
of disruption and retains three lanes, a hard shoulder and 70 mph speed
limits in both directions during normal traffic conditions.
Highways England says the new barrier will be ready for deployment from