Locals brand £100m Brexit border control site a 'white elephant'
EXCLUSIVE: ‘It’s ruining everybody’s lives’: Locals living near empty £100m Brexit border control site in Kent brand it a ‘white elephant’ after they were forced to endure months of building works only for it to be barely used
- DEFRA splashed £13.3M constructing the site that has ‘no current operations’
- Residents have now branded it a ‘white elephant’ and a ‘waste of money’
Residents living near a multi-million pound Brexit border control centre have branded it a ‘white elephant’ and a ‘waste of money’ after it was revealed the site has been left desolate just months after opening.
Inland Border Facility (IBF) in the village of Sevington near Ashford, Kent, was built for carrying out checks on HGVs transporting goods in and out of the UK. The 230-acre site has space for 1,700 vehicles to wait.
The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) allegedly splashed £13.3million constructing the border control post, but the total cost is believed to be closer to £100million, according to the Guardian.
But DEFRA has now confirmed the site has ‘no current operations’, with the exception of a small presence holding Ukrainian pets.
Residents living near a multi-million pound Brexit border control centre have branded it a ‘white elephant’ and a ‘waste of money’ after it was revealed the site has been left desolate just months after opening
Inland Border Facility (IBF) in the village of Sevington near Ashford, Kent, was built for carrying out checks on HGVs transporting goods in and out of the UK. The 230-acre site has space for 1,700 vehicles to wait
The news that the facility is already redundant adds insult to injury for local residents who have suffered months of light and noise pollution since the facility opened in June.
Retired TV engineer Steven Honey, 75, who lives on Nightingale Close – around half a mile from IBF – said the post is ‘ruining everybody’s lives’ locally .
The dad-of-two, who lives with his wife Jackie, 71, said HGVs regularly use the small estate to turn around after getting lost on their way to the facility.
He said: ‘Lorries come into the estate and get stuck. We even had a tanker round here the other day.
‘They’ve actually ruined people’s gardens up the top. It’s ruining everybody’s lives.
‘It’s disgusting. It’s a complete and utter waste of money.
‘And it’s ruined the land it was built on – that used to be open farmland with sheep and everything.
‘They even found a Saxon burial up there and they still built over it. It disgusts me.
‘I know change is necessary but it’s changed for the worse, not for the better.’
While constructing the facility, engineers found the remains of a wall in a corner of the vast farmland.
Locals raised concerns it could be part of an ancient Anglo Saxon village – prompting work on the site to be halted while archaeologists investigated.
Former accounts manager Jacqui, who has lived in the semi-detached property in Nightingale Close with her husband for 30 years, has fond memories of working on the site when it was farmland.
The mum-of-two added: ‘I really think the discovery of the Saxon burial should’ve stopped it being built on.
‘I used to work there when it was a farm and it was lovely.
‘It’s definitely a blot on the landscape now.’
The Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now confirmed the site has ‘no current operations’, with the exception of a small presence holding Ukrainian pets. The now closed facility is pictured yesterday
Cash-strapped Kent County Council have also reportedly been left to stump up around £660,000 of missing Brexit grants since the facility was built. The council is allegedly having to pay ‘ongoing EU Exit costs’ following a misunderstanding
Cash-strapped Kent County Council have also reportedly been left to stump up around £660,000 of missing Brexit grants since the facility was built.
The council is allegedly having to pay ‘ongoing EU Exit costs’ following a misunderstanding.
They reportedly budgeted for the government to fund the new project but nothing was secured.
At the same time the council faces a crisis due to a £60 million overspend.
Retired carer Janice Stewart, 71, described the site as a ‘white elephant’.
She said the money invested into the facility should’ve been spent on improving local amenities amid the cost-of-living crisis instead.
Janice said: ‘At that price it’s a waste of money. It’s like a white elephant.
‘They could’ve done something a lot better with all that money.
‘They could’ve used it to build council houses or bungalows for pensioners, or affordable housing for families who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
Drone images capture empty £100m Brexit border control site built in Kent with customs officers left to inspect a few pets arriving from Ukraine: CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
The Inland Border Facility (IBF) in Sevington, Ashford, Kent, which appears desolate – current photo
‘They could’ve built a park for the local kids or a community centre and a few shops.
‘Something for everyone – not just for the few.
‘They’d be better off spending it on things to serve the community.
‘It’s isolated round here, it’s like living on an island. We don’t even have a bus route.
‘It seems as though we’ve been forgotten.’
Grandmother-of-12 Janice, who has lived on Church Road for nine years, said the facility has made the area a ‘nightmare’ and has done little to improve the volume of traffic.
The mum-of-two said: ‘The amount of traffic and the build up of lorries is actually dangerous.
‘Only the other day a lorry went into the back of a car on the dual carriageway.
‘It’s a nightmare around here – personally I think it’s got worse since they built that place.’
Eric Charlton, 83, who has lived in Ashford all his life, described the site as a ‘waste of money’.
Like Janice, he believes the funds could’ve been better spent investing in the local community, which he says has been ‘forgotten’.
The pensioner said: ‘This is a forgotten area. The council can’t be bothered with us.
‘They don’t even bother sweeping the streets around here.
‘We pay a lot of council tax but I had to clean all the leaves out of the gutter myself.
‘This road hasn’t been swept for about a year and a half and there’s potholes everywhere.
‘I think that site was just a waste of money to begin with.’
When Eric moved into his detached house on nearby Kingfisher Close 30-years-ago it was surrounded by countryside.
Now it’s just a stone’s throwing from the border facility – with staff parking their cars on the estate during working hours.
Eric said: ‘When this estate was built, there was nothing here. It was just countryside.
‘This used to all be grass, with cows grazing. None of these industries were built and the dual carriageway wasn’t here.
‘It was lovely years ago but they’ve ruined it. The industrialisation causes a lot of aggravation.
‘The staff that work there park their cars here which stops residents being able to park.’
IBF was one of three proposed Brexit border control sites in Kent but the other two did not go ahead
IBF was one of three proposed Brexit border control sites in Kent but the other two did not go ahead.
Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said it is ‘sinful’ that money is still being spent powering the desolate site, while local residents struggle to heat their homes.
The 65-year-old said: ‘I drive past it all the time and it looks barely used, yet the lights are constantly blazing – while we’re in the middle of an energy crisis and being told to cut down on electricity use.
‘When you consider there’s people going without food, and people who cannot keep their homes warm, it’s atrocious that they’ve spent that much money on something that’s not being used.
‘The appropriation of money like that just seems wrong.
‘And the building work inconvenienced a lot of people – it went on for so long and disturbed people’s sleep.
‘So if it’s not being used, it’s sinful. It’s immoral.’
The pensioner, who lives in the village of Sevington, said she would have preferred to see the money invested in tackling poverty in the area.
She added: ‘They could’ve used that kind of money to combat child poverty, food poverty, or fuel poverty.
‘The mental health facilities could’ve been improved.
‘There’s repairs on roads and pavements that don’t get addressed.’
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