Summer getaway: Dover ‘critical incident’ blamed on French border staff being ‘woefully inadequate’
Dover authorities have slammed “woefully inadequate” staffing levels at the French border, with queues on UK motorways tailing back for miles.
Ferry operators told travellers to leave several hours to account for delays, while motoring group RAC urged drivers to set off early in a bid to beat long queues.
There was a perfect storm on Britain’s motorways this morning, with holidaymakers trying to get away to the continent, fuel protests bringing motorways to a standstill, and staff shortages from the French side of the border .
Chief executive Doug Bannister said there was a “critical incident,” leaving holidaymakers in five-hour bottlenecks to check in.
“We know that resource is finite, but the popularity of Dover is not a surprise,” a spokesperson for the Kent port said in a statement earlier this morning, adding that the situation “could and should have been avoided.”
“Regrettably, the Police Aux Frontieres (PAF) has been insufficient and has fallen far short of what is required to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer getaway period.”
Bannister’s words were echoed by Tory MP for Dover Nathalie Elphicke, who said French controllers “didn’t turn up for work.”
People on Twitter were quick to blame the current situation on post-Brexit checks.
“Don’t blame French resources, blame Brexit and the obstacles it has thrown up,” said one user while another said that, before Brexit, delays at Dover’s border control “just didn’t happen.”
The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder said that the post-Brexit need to stamp UK passports has definitively contributed to the ongoing situation.
“That takes far longer than the previous checks when people typically just waved their passport at the guards and they were waved through,” he told Sky News.
P&O today asked to allow “at least six hours to clear security checks” while Irish Ferries said passengers will be accommodated on “the next available sailing” if delayed.
Disruption at the port started yesterday, as thousands of Britons tried to beat traffic ahead of the school break.
The millions of families embarking on their well-deserved summer holidays will also need to brace themselves for additional disruption as fuel price protests are expected to create mayhem on major arteries.
According to an image posted on the Facebook group ‘Fuel Price Stand Against Tax,’ demonstrations are set to be held nationwide – impacting major urban areas such as London, Manchester and Birmingham.
Avon and Somerset police said that despite a slow moving demonstration on the M5 northbound Junction 24, “there are no delays on motorways in our area due to protest activity, but some motorists may experience longer journey times today.”
Twitter user Kristen Hardy posted a video on social media, saying: “Fuel protests have started on the M5 Northbound north of Bridgwater causing chaos.”