Truckers face £50 an hour charge waiting for Brexit customs checks –

Truckers fear being milked for extra cash by HMRC as they wait for their paperwork to clear at special "inland border facilities" intended to minimise disruption at ports. 

Hauliers have been told that after the first two hours of waiting at the nine sites for the green light for their paperwork they will be charged GBP50 an hour from February 1.

Confusion among officials over how to handle documents needed following Brexit and the sheer volume of paperwork mean HMRC staff are overwhelmed, according to hauliers, who say they are experiencing waits often far longer than two hours. 

Kevin Hopper, director of haulage firm Brian Yeardley Continental, said: "The situation is appalling. Trucks queue for hours just to get into the border facility, then park and drivers get out of their vehicles and queue for the cabin to hand in their papers. "They are then told to go back to their trucks and wait for a text message saying their papers have cleared and that takes anything from one to three hours at the moment. 

"One truck took nine hours to get through the inland border facility [on Thursday] and it felt like scoring a goal at Wembley when it finally got out and on the ferry.

Waits are only going to get longer as traffic increases. "Charging us GBP50 per hour for HMRC's inefficiency is just adding insult to injury."

Brexit in Pictures

Mr Hopper said drivers at his 60-vehicle business were also being forced stand in the rain as they queued to hand over their documents with little social distancing, and that toilet facilities were often blocked.

Even when they return to their trucks they have been told not to start their engines to keep warm and there was nowhere to get hot drinks.

The haulage chief added: "Pictures I have seen with drivers queuing in the rain surrounded by fences reminded me of concentration camps. How can Transport Secretary Grant Shapps say there is no problem? I'd challenge his staff to come and go through what drivers are having to."

Hauliers say they are already being targeted for extra cash, with Kent County Council being given new powers to clamp and fine lorries in certain areas. 

Hauliers already need Kent Access Permits - nicknamed "Kermits" - to enter the county and face GBP300 fines for not having them.

Local lorry firms and those who do not travel internationally will be exempt. 

HMRC defended the planned charges claiming they would not be levied if checks take longer than two hours, although truckers questioned how this would be enforced.

Mr Hopper said limits on how long truck drivers could work also meant they could be forced to remain at the border facilities racking up charges because of delays queuing to get in or waiting for HMRC to process their documents.

A HMRC spokesman said: "If hauliers remain onsite without a legitimate need then charges will be applicable in line with arrangements currently operated at ports."

Social distancing was "in place at all sites" and concerns about welfare provisions for drivers would be investigated, HMRC added.

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