Dover shutdown: UK urges France to act as travelers face more delays

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has urged France to act over “entirely avoidable” delays at the border as holidaymakers and lorry drivers face another day of deadlocked roads around Dover.

Tight lines formed again on Saturday after a day of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Friday.

It’s one of the busiest times for international travel from the UK, with most schools in England and Wales closed for the summer.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary said the delays and queues were “unacceptable” and blamed a lack of staff by the French at the border.

But a French politician blamed Brexit for the chaos.

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Cars queue at check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families head out on short breaks after the start of the summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2022. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, said the problems at the port of Kent would return, telling BBC News: “This is a consequence of Brexit. We have to carry out more checks than before.”

Mr Dumont also said the Port of Dover was “too small” and there were not enough kiosks due to a lack of space.

His comments linking delays to Brexit were supported by Doug Bannister, chief executive of the Port of Dover, who said it had to be recognized that there would be “extended transaction times” at the border due to extra controls.

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Cars queue at check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families head out on short breaks after the start of the summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2022. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Mr Bannister told the BBC Radio Four Today programme: “We are operating in a post-Brexit environment which means passports have to be checked, they have to be stamped and indeed the able people manning the booths have to be police aux frontieres, you are doing the work that you must do now.”

He said the port has “created more marginal capacity to allow overall throughput to be sustained” and that while their modeling has shown that some “very busy days are expected during the summer season, we should be able to do that for the most part.” handle the traffic”.

His comments come after he said on Friday that being “abandoned” by poor resources at the French border was “immensely frustrating”.

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Cars queue at check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families head out on short breaks after the start of the summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2022. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Around 10,000 cars are expected to be cleared out of the port on Saturday, up from Friday’s 8,500.

A “critical incident” has been reported by the port due to the queues, with tourists being told to stay away and warnings Saturday could be just as bad.

Local MP Natalie Elphicke said that “long, long delays” are again expected and insisted that French authorities “should apologize to Dover residents and holidaymakers for the unnecessary bank holiday chaos at the start of the summer holiday”.

She also called for an end to “this band-aid approach – investing in the roads, truck parks and port facilities to support the growth and prosperity of @Port_of_Dover, Kent and Dover”.

In a statement, Tory leader hope Ms Truss said: “This appalling situation should have been entirely avoidable and is unacceptable.

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Cars queue at check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families head out on short breaks after the start of the summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

“We need action from France to build capacity at the border to limit further disruption to British tourists and ensure this appalling situation is avoided in the future.

“We will work with the French authorities to find a solution.”

A French official said an “unforeseen technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel meant that manning of border control booths had to be postponed from 8.30am to 9.45am on Friday morning.

But Eurotunnel’s director of public affairs, John Keefe, told the BBC that the tunnel incident had “absolutely nothing to do with problems at the Port of Dover”.

Passengers departing from Dover for crossings across the English Channel must clear French border controls before boarding a ferry.

The port said in a statement that it had increased the number of border control booths by 50 percent.

It continued: “Unfortunately, the resources of the PAF (Police aux Frontieres) were inadequate and fell far short of what is needed to ensure a smooth first weekend of the main summer holiday season.”

Jack Cousens, the AA’s head of street policy, said: “With schools closing their doors completely yesterday, Saturday could prove to be even busier this weekend.

“Drivers should continue to expect disruptions and delays on key holiday routes to the south west and east coasts and the ports of Dover and Folkestone.

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Cars queue at check-in at Dover Port in Kent as many families head out on short breaks after the start of the summer holidays for many schools in England and Wales. Picture date: Saturday July 23, 2022. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

“While many have chosen to leave at the start of the summer holidays, there will be plenty to do on our streets every Friday and Saturday between now and early September when schools return.

“That’s because these are peak changeover days for vacation rentals.”

Ferry operator P&O Ferries urged passengers to allow at least five hours to clear access roads and security checkpoints.

The ferry company said Friday night it expects Saturday to be “just as busy”.

Grant Shapps said he was working closely with France’s transport minister.

The Transport Secretary tweeted: “Today there have been serious delays in Dover and as such I am working closely with my colleague Clement Beaune to tackle the issues that have been causing congestion.

“I welcome his commitment that both Britain and France will work closely together to minimize further disruption so people can escape quickly.”

Labor Party’s Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the Government of being “absent” amid another day of deadlocked roads, telling Times Radio that those responsible need to “get a handle on this situation”.

On Friday evening, the French embassy in Britain said French border controls at Dover were “at full capacity”, adding that French authorities were working closely with their British counterparts and all actors responsible for traffic at the Port of Dover to allow travelers to make their crossings to be carried out under the best possible conditions”.

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/dover-gridlock-uk-calls-on-france-to-act-as-travellers-face-more-delays-41862088.html Dover shutdown: UK urges France to act as travelers face more delays

Fry Electronics Team

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