Dover queue fears raised with French ‘days ago’

Motorists have been told to expect disruption in coming weeks. Picture: Getty
Motorists have been told to expect disruption in coming weeks. Picture: Getty
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Concerns about long queues at Dover were raised with the French government “days before the situation developed,” the company managing the port said.

Tailbacks reached 12 miles over the weekends and some holidaymakers were forced to wait for 15 hours on gridlocked roads.

The Port of Dover issued a statement which read: “We raised concerns over French manning levels with the UK government days before the situation developed, and the government, in turn, raised the issue with its French
counterparts.

“We are determined to continue working with the UK authorities to find a way of ensuring that French border control posts are suitably staffed in future.”

The company thanked customers for their “incredible fortitude and good humour” during the chaos and insisted that “border policy can only be resolved by governments”.

Police said the disruption was down to a “vast volume of holiday traffic” coupled with delays caused by heightened security at the border in the wake of terror attacks.

Increased checks were put in place by French authorities but questions have been raised about staffing levels to deal with the huge number of people travelling at this time.

UK Border Force officials have since been drafted in to work with French border police.

Some travellers spent the night in their cars as they tried in vain to get to Dover on gridlocked roads.

Delays eased yesterday but motorists were warned to expect some disruption for weeks to come.

The head of the port of Calais said he is “ashamed” of the congestion.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the Côte d’Opale Chamber of Commerce, which runs the port of Calais, insisted he would complain to the French authorities about the failure to prepare for increased border checks.

Mr Puissesseau said: “I am very ashamed of this situation. I am so sorry for the British passengers starting their holiday with so long a wait because of control.”

Downing Street rejected suggestions that the delays may be a French retaliation for Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman said: “I don’t think there’s any evidence to suggest that.

“What we know has happened is that France has suffered one of its worst terrorist attacks and put in security measures in place as a result. And we have the busiest weekend at the port of the year so far.”

Helen Deeble, chief executive of P&O Ferries, said holidaymakers were delayed for “completely unacceptable lengths of time”.