Covid-19 Emergency Bill: Keeping our trading gateways open should be a priority
Responding to the publication of the Government’s policy paper on its new Emergency Bill the British Ports Association has said that keeping the UK’s global gateways open for trade should be a priority. Commenting Richard Ballantyne, chief executive, British Ports Association said:
"UK ports facilitate 95% of our trade and will be instrumental ensuring the country is fed and resourced in the coming weeks.
Half of the UK's food is imported and it will be critical to keep our ports open so that shops, public services, and businesses are supplied with what the country needs. The industry is generally very supportive of the Government’s measures to bring the pandemic under control and is working hard to keep goods moving. Also we would expect that proposed new powers to potentially close individual ports will only be used in the most extreme circumstances.
These are unprecedented times and we are working closely with the UK Government and devolved administrations. Our ports are currently open and facilitating imports of food, supplies and resources. It will be important that Government staff at the frontline look to support this effort as best they can. We have been speaking with our counterparts in Italy where the ports have remained open and we are learning from their experiences to keep our gateways operational."
The new Bill will enable the Home Secretary to request that port and airport operators temporarily close and suspend operations if Border Force staff shortages result in a real and significant threat to the UK’s border security.
This is to ensure the UK can maintain adequate border security throughout the pandemic and protect the public from the threat of criminality or importation of prohibited items that could result from an inadequately controlled border.
This might only be used in extremis, where necessary and proportionate, and any direction will be kept to the minimum period necessary to maintain the security of the UK border. We trust that these powers would only be enacted suddenly without consideration of the implications. We would expect a sunset clause on these powers so that they expire once the pandemic is brought under control.
Suspension of Lorry Control Scheme (LLLS) will help keep supermarkets stocked during the Covid-19 pandemic
The London Councils’ decision to suspend the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLLS) will allow logistics businesses to keep supermarkets and other retailers stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to FTA. The business organisation, which represents the logistics sector, is thrilled the government has listened to its advice and agreed to suspend the LLLS until 31 April 2020.
David Wells, CEO of FTA, recently wrote to the Chair of London Councils urging him to extend the hours in which deliveries can be made to supermarkets to help keep shelved stocked during this crisis. He comments:
“FTA and its members strongly welcome the London Councils’ decision to listen to our advice and suspended temporarily the London Lorry Control Scheme; this is a vital step forward in the industry’s response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. By extending the hours in which deliveries can be made, it strengthens the resilience of the supply chain and helps businesses to keep supermarkets stocked with the essential items consumers need to remain healthy and safe during this unprecedented time, including food, hygiene products and other basic items.”
Mr Wells continues: “We advise all logistics businesses affected by this decision to follow the guidance and code of practice developed by Transport for London, with support from FTA. By following this advice, operators can understand how to retime their deliveries effectively, while not disturbing local residents.”
The guidance and code of practice are available to view here.