Dover queues delay, a case of ‘Déjà Vu’? We would prefer to be writing good news coming out of Dover and having looked at Full Customs Controls 2022 at the beginning of this year, one of the items of concern was the potential of long queues at the port. We reported Dover Queues in our April news item and looked at how a perfect storm was considered as to the cause of that particular problem; noting it was Easter and P&O ferries were still out of commission after the mass sacking of crew members by the company.

Déjà vu is a French term we’ve adopted in the English language to suggest that one feels as having lived through the present situation before. This is unlikely for many who have been stuck at Dover but for drivers, for some, if not many, they will have gone through this experience before.

Dover queues gone after Easter? This is the question we asked at the end of our April article and Toby Howe, the tactical lead for The Kent Resilience Forum (which manages emergency planning for the county) suggested: “The summer is a worry. We need plans in place so we can restrict that traffic coming in.”

It seems no coincidence that the start of school holidays at Easter and now summer in England has meant a surge of traffic to the port. This adds to the lorry driver’s woes.

The blame game

At Easter everyone seemed to accept that no single factor was an issue. On this occasion, a blame game seems to have been adopted.

On Friday the 22nd of July, a ‘critical incident’ was declared by the Port of Dover due to six-hour tailbacks to the ferry terminal.

The Port of Dover blamed the French authorities for “woefully inadequate” border control staffing.

Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, also potentially the next PM, “We need action from France to build up capacity at the border to limit any further disruption for British tourists and to ensure this appalling situation is avoided in future” and “We will be working with the French authorities to find a solution.”

French authorities have hit back at claims by the Port of Dover that French border control staff were to blame for a second day of hours-long delays, saying: “France is not responsible for Brexit.”

French politician Pierre-Henri Dumont tweeted:
No need to blame French authorities for the traffic jams in #Dover: that’s an aftermath of #Brexit. We have to run more and longer checks.
The British government rejected few months ago a proposal to double the number of passport booths given to the French Police in Dover.

While these words are exchanged, freight is being stacked up on the main approach routes to Dover.

What’s the view of the Road Haulage Association on Dover queues delay

For Scotland and export goods such as fish and meat (perishable items), the Road Haulage Association with Martin Reid, policy director in Scotland for the Road Haulage Association, said the road chaos, which saw some drivers waiting for 30 hours, was destined to be the “new normal”.

“Because of Brexit this is how it is going to be in the summer because the free movement of goods has stopped.”

“Unfortunately, these sort of scenes and delays at the ports will be the new normal.”

One lorry driver claimed he had been queuing in his HGV in Dover since 6pm on Thursday, and was still waiting to cross the Channel after 10am on Friday morning.

“I’ve been in something like this before, but this is the worst,” he said.

At the time of publishing this, it was suggested approximately 3,000 lorries are reportedly waiting to cross the Channel.

More at the BBC on Kent news and the summary at the time of publishing:

Holidaymakers and hauliers face a third day of disruption at the Channel Tunnel, but the delays at Dover appear to have eased.

The AA says due to the stacking of lorries on the M20, people heading to the Eurotunnel terminal are still facing long queues.

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