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Ashford to become Border Control Post

Published: 27/09/2021
Aerial view of Ashford Port Health site

Ashford has always promoted its fantastic transport links, but did you know we’re set to start providing a port health service next year?

In late September 2020 Defra informed us that the Sevington Inland Border Facility (IBF) is being designated a Border Control Post and that the council will become responsible for carrying out various port health controls on behalf of the government. This is in conjunction with other agencies such as the Animal and Plant Health Agency. 

As a consequence of EU Transition, we will become responsible for checks on imports of products of animal origin (POAO), high-risk food not of animal origin (HRFNAO) and animal by-products (animal products not for human consumption) imported from the EU. 

The Border Control Post will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and currently estimated will involve over 124,000 checks per year. Over 120 staff are likely to be directly employed/engaged by the council.

From 1 January 2022 there will be a requirement for pre-notification of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods. Full Customs declarations and controls will be also introduced from this date as previously announced.

From 1 July 2022 the BCP will be starting physical, identity and sampling checks.

Clearly this is a big undertaking for us and we have asked government for financial and practical support in setting this up. We are also speaking to port health authorities across the country and they are providing help and advice.

The creation of new inland border facilities after EU transition is of national importance and the site at Sevington is a key part of the national plan. When fully operational it will be one of the largest in England. Our council will therefore play a vital role in making a success of the country’s new trading arrangements with the EU.

Aerial photo of Sevington Inland Border Facility

Cllr Peter Feacey, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing, said: “The new service being developed for the Sevington Border Control Post is definitely a challenge but equally is an exciting prospect for the borough council.

“The scale of the task is vast, logistically complex and extremely time sensitive. We are, however, fully committed to implementing the changes that are necessary and discharging our responsibilities. I am heartened by the support being provided by Defra, not only from a financial perspective but also practically in terms of designing and implementing this service in just a few months.

“I am also aware of the close collaboration between our council and Dover District Council, who face a similar challenge in their area, and am sure that both councils will rise to the challenge before them and provide these nationally strategic services.”

An officer steering group has been established under the leadership of the council’s Chief Executive to drive this project forward and arrangements are being made to start a significant recruitment campaign. Back-fill within services is also happening in order to create the necessary capacity to delivery this project. Where necessary this will involve the recruitment of temporary staff.

As soon as we have received confirmation of the funding bid, the hard work really begins in terms of designing the service in detail. This includes developing a timeline for staff recruitment, identify the roles performed by the various staff groups, purchasing the required IT systems and integrating them with council back office systems, designing the checking processes, undertaking the necessary recruitment and beginning the various training programmes.