BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Kent Police declare major incident on day 2 of Dover queues

8.01 am: July 23 – Kent Police have declared a major incident in the area on the second day of long queues waiting to get into the Port of Dover.

With each side of the Channel blaming the other for the delays and the issues at customs and immigration, Grant Shapps the UK’s Transport Secretary has contacted his counterpart in France to try and resolve the issues causing the delays.

Numerous different views have been put forward as to the reasons for the delays but overwhelmingly the comments online and from commentators are that BREXIT is to blame.  To make matters worse it is understood that the government turned down a request to invest more in customs and immigration controls, which were put forward in view of the expectation that capacity would fall short over the summer.

The news also follows the recent revelation that a report prepared by the Head of the Border Force to deal with immigration issues has yet to be made public or acted upon by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Whatever the reason for the delays and the problems, who is to blame is cold comfort for those trying to travel through the port many of whom have spent half a day or more waiting.

5.22 pm: July 22 – A statement by French police handling Calais crossings said that the problems which caused the Port of Dover to declare an incident, were due to an “unexpected technical incident” under the Channel Tunnel.

P & O Ferries and the Port of Dover this morning blamed France for not having sufficient immigration and customs staff to deal with the influx of tourists. But French authorities denied this was the case saying that the technical difficulties in the Channel Tunnel were to blame.

Local police reiterated that they would continue to work closely with British authorities to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.

10.23 am: July 22 -The Port of Dover has declared another major incident blaming French authorities for being unprepared for the volume of travellers.

Authorities at the Port said on the morning of Friday, July 22 that French immigration was understaffed resulting in significant delays in the processing of arrivals.

Ferry companies operating from Dover have issued a warning saying that queues are in excess of four hours and that those using the Port should come prepared for a long wait. They have advised people to bring adequate food and water with queues said to be inching along.

For the second time in as many weeks, long queues have formed at the Port with many going online to express their frustration at the long wait.

Port of Dover Chief Executive, Doug Bannister, told Sky News: “The cause of it is French immigration controls.

“We’ve been let down this morning despite the planning of the last several months to get ready for this day.

“This is causing major disruption. French border controls are not properly staffed.”

A statement issued by the Port said that it was disappointed all the work that had been undertaken to prepare authorities for the busy summer months had come to nothing. It said: “We are deeply frustrated that the resource at the French border overnight and early this morning has been woefully inadequate to meet our predicted demand.”

The statement added that it had: “Shared traffic volumes in granular detail with the French authorities in order that these volumes can be matched by adequate border resources.

“We know that resource is finite, but the popularity of Dover is not a surprise.

“Regrettably, the Police Aux Frontieres (PAF) resource has been insufficient and has fallen far short of what is required to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer getaway period.”

Concluding it said: “We have to work as a team.”

Many of the comments online say, however, that it is wrong to blame the French with the UK no longer a part of the EU the time taken to pass through immigration is understandably taking longer. Additional passport and customs controls have been introduced in both the UK and on the continent following the UK’s departure, and that has significantly increased the time that it now takes to clear customs and immigration.

The Port and the ferry companies have said extra trained staff have been added to help passengers arriving at the terminal.

Fuel protests are also planned for today, which could cause further disruption on major roads including parts of the M4, M5, M32 and A38.

The protests organised by Fuel Price Stand Against Tax have some 53,000 members on its Facebook page, with posts suggesting activists will assemble “nationwide” to make their voices heard today.

The problems at the Port of Dover are not a great start to the start of the summer holidays, with inadequate staffing in France said to have forced the authorities to declare a major incident.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]