Travel News

‘Critical incident’ declared at Dover amid six-hour queues

Holidaymakers are facing long queues into the Port of Dover amid a “critical incident” on Friday while fuel price protests threaten to disrupt travel for thousands of others.

The port’s chief executive blamed “woefully inadequate” staffing at French border control for the long queues.

P&O Ferries has told passengers to allow “at least six hours” to clear all security checks while some lorry drivers have said it is “the worst” disruption they have ever experienced at the port.

It comes as a fuel price protest took place on the M5, with a slow moving convoy of vehicles clearing the motorway within hours causing only minimal disruption to traffic.

Protest groups have threatened to cause chaos at others site throughout the day.

AA issues traffic warning amid lengthy port delays

14:23 , Elly Blake

The AA has told drivers to be “prepared for delays long before they reach the terminal” at the Port of Dover.

Issuing a travel warning to drivers in the south-east of England, they said motorists should make sure they have enough fuel in the tank as well as plenty of water and snacks.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said; “With extremely lengthy queues heading towards Dover and Folkestone, it is incredibly important that drivers are prepared for delays long before they reach the terminal.

“Making sure you have enough fuel in the tank as well as plenty of water and snacks will be key in trying to manage the jams. Drivers should also keep track of congestion via the AA app and stay in touch with their travel firm to stay up to date on any advice being issued.”

It comes as port officals warned of delays of at least six hours earlier on Friday.

Meanwhile, the EuroShuttle at Folkstone is advising of three hour delays.

Traffic disruption at other Channel ports appears minimal, according to AA Route Planner scans at around midday on Friday.

AA Route Planner began receiving reporting severe delays at 3.30am and said that it continues to monitor ports across the UK.

The latest data from the AA Route Planner shows Portsmouth and Newhaven ferry ports are running reasonably smoothly.

Protest at Shell garage finished, with small protest taking place at another nearby forecourt

14:09 , Elly Blake

The Shell garage protest in Bridgwater has concluded and it has reopened, Avon and Somerset Police have said.

A small protest though at the nearby Esso garage in Bridgwater is now taking place.

Buses finally arrive for foot passengers

13:56 , Miriam Burrell

Foot passengers waiting at a Dover terminal punched the air as port staff told them they were finally able to board buses to their ferry.

Some had been waiting from as early as 5am for the 9.15 sailing and were finally able to get on a bus to take them to a boat at around 1.35pm.

Buses also arrived to transport passengers who were booked on 11.15am and 2pm ferries.

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Passengers told to allow five hours before travel

13:53 , Elly Blake

P&O Ferries said Jubilee Way is “currently at a standstill”.

It has warned passengers booked to travel today to allow five hours to clear the approach roads and security checks.

“Rest assured ,if you miss your sailing, you’ll be on the first available once at check-in,” P&O Ferries advised passengers.

Port of Dover: Read full statement

13:35 , Miriam Burrell

Port of Dover: ‘Inadequate’ French border capacity

13:32 , Elly Blake

The Port of Dover has urged the UK Government to “continue working with French counterparts” to “adequately resource the border” throughout the summer to “keep our community clear, to get families on their holidays and to keep essential trade moving”.

A statement said: “The port is working to do all it can with ferry operators and local partners to assist with clearing the queues caused by inadequate French border capacity.

“Resource at the French border has increased this morning and traffic is slowly beginning to move, but it will take some time to clear the backlog.

“Passengers need to come prepared with water, food and supplies and to check with their chosen ferry operator for the latest information and advice. Passengers are also asked to avoid trying back routes to reach the port as that makes the situation worse, particularly for local residents.

“Continual high holiday traffic volumes are fully expected, and our freight customers also remain significantly delayed, so we urge French colleagues to adequately resource the border, not just to relieve the current situation, but for the rest of the weekend and indeed the rest of the summer to keep our community clear, to get families on their holidays and to keep essential trade moving.

“The port urges the UK Government to continue working with French counterparts in order to ensure this is the case.”

Pictured: People drag suitcases to cruise terminal

13:16 , Miriam Burrell

People have been forced to walk with their suitcases to the cruise terminal in Dover, Kent as no taxis or buses are available due to the traffic jams.

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Germans wait in campervan for 4.5 hours

13:11 , Miriam Burrell

A German family has been waiting for four-and-a-half hours in their campervan to try and get on a ferry back to Europe from Dover.

Steffan, 41, was travelling with his wife and two children, aged six and 11, who he said were “playing cards and arguing” as they wait in line.

“I got a message in the evening saying to come at least four hours before takeoff,” he said, but the family had nonetheless missed their ferry, which was due to leave at midday.

‘Critical bottleneck’ is source of problems at Dover

12:40 , Elly Blake

The chief executive of the Port of Dover said staff are focused on tackling the “critical bottleneck” but could not promise the chaos would be gone by Saturday.

Doug Bannister told BBC News: “Right now our intention is to get the traffic moving. It will take us a little while to clear the backlog.

“It’s a busy weekend in front of us, tomorrow is going to be a busy day as well. This is just the start of a very busy summer for us so we need to be getting attention on this for the rest of the summer, really.”

Asked whether he could reassure travellers planning a trip over the coming days that the backlog would ease, he said: “I really wish I could – we’re putting all the attention we possibly can do on ensuring there will be enough resources in place to manage this very busy first weekend of the summer.

“It’s this critical bottleneck… we need to make sure resources are appropriate.”

Small delays on M5 but no longer protest activity in Avon and Somerset, says police

12:06 , Elly Blake

Avon and Somerset police have said the protest convey has exited the M5 and there is “now no protest activity on motorways within Avon & Somerset.”

Small delays in both directions are due to the volume of traffic.

A protest continues at the Shell garage in Bridgwater.

Port of Dover boss says situation is ‘immensely frustrating’

12:01 , Elly Blake

The chief executive of the Port of Dover said it is “immensely frustrating” to be “let down” by poor resourcing at the French border.

Doug Bannister told BBC News the port had shared “granular detail” on an “hour-by-hour basis” about the amount traffic it was expecting.

He said it became clear at around 4am that there would be a “challenge”.

Mr Bannister said: “I am so sorry that the travellers we have going to the port today are being impacted.

“To be let down in the way that we have with inadequate resources and slow processes through the border is just immensely frustrating.

“We’ve shared in granular detail, on an hour-by-hour basis, the amount of traffic we were anticipating, so it was completely known what we needed to have in place at the French border.”

Holidaymakers continue to tell of long queues and missed ferries

11:27 , Elly Blake

Travellers hoping to set out from Dover have waited inside the terminal for a bus to shuttle them to a ferry from as early as 5am, as coaches remain stuck in traffic outside the port.

Port staff have offered complimentary refreshments vouchers for stranded passengers.

Detlef Henke, 50, had been on holiday in the UK with his wife, and had walked to the ferry terminal at 5am hoping to catch a bus to get them on to a boat departing at 9.50am.

The couple missed their boat and were still waiting for the bus to arrive at 10.45am.

“The guys told us that we must wait. They don’t know where the bus is,” he said.

“We also have refreshment vouchers.”

Chaos ‘is the worst’ I’ve ever experienced, says lorry driver

11:14 , Elly Blake

Turkish lorry driver Muhammet Turker had been queuing in his HGV in Dover since 6pm on Thursday, and was still waiting to cross the Channel on Friday morning.

He told PA News agency that other lorries kept cutting in front of him in the queue.

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

He added that this chaos was “worse than P&O,” when workers for the ferry company protested against mass lay-offs earlier this year, causing gridlock in Dover.

Mr Turker had been in his lorry since 1.30pm the previous day, having left from Manchester on Thursday afternoon.

Conservative MP for Dover says French border officers ‘didn’t turn up for work’

10:32 , Elly Blake

Natalie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, claimed French border officers “didn’t turn up for work”.

She also said there has been “weeks of preparation” for this week by the Port, the Department for Transport and Kent Resilience Forum, and “much work with French counterparts too”.

She went on: “Despite all this, French border officers didn’t turn up for work at the passport controls as needed. This has caused massive delays.

“More French officers are reported to be arriving. It’s vital that the French passports controls are fully staffed during this peak holiday period.”

Pictured: Cars queue to Port of Dover

10:10 , Elly Blake

Vehicles including HGVs, family camper vans and cars with bicycle racks are queuing through Dover town centre to reach the port, which has declared a “critical incident”, as police officers control the traffic flow around local roads and ensure roundabouts are clear.

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Change of plans at the last minute to avoid Dover cost holidaymaker £400

10:00 , Elly Blake

A man and his elderly mother have changed their holiday plans at the last minute to avoid long queues at the Port of Dover, costing £400.

John Till, 45, a railway worker, was due to take his mother Edna Johnson, 87, to Germany to see some friends today.

However, after hearing reports of long queues at Dover he decided “he couldn’t run the risk” and decided to book new tickets from the Port of Poole.

He said: “I saw that people had already been queuing for four hours. I’m taking my elderly mother over to see some friends in Germany, so I have a really long drive on the other side when we arrive.

“I couldn’t run the risk of being stuck in a queue for four hours with no toilets and the horrendous drive the other side, so at half four this morning I made the snap decision to rebook travel with Brittany Ferries and travel from the Port of Poole, which is a lot more expensive.”

He said that the changes cost him £400 but he had “no other choice” than to make them because the trip had been in the works for a “very long time” and there was “no way I was going to let my mum down”.

He added: “Had it been made clear a couple of days ago that there was a risk of such long queues, I might have made alternative arrangements, which might have not been this expensive.”

‘Small number of vehicles’ believed to be headed to Shell petrol in Bridgwater

09:38 , Elly Blake

Meanwhile, a small number of vehicles have also set off along the A38 north from M5 J24.

“We understand they are travelling slowly to the Shell petrol station near Bridgwater’s Express Park to conduct a protest at the forecourt,” Avon and Somerset Police tweeted.

Slow-moving protest of 10 vehicles has joined the M5, say police

09:36 , Elly Blake

A slow-moving protest convoy of about 10 vehicles has joined the M5 northbound at J24 Bridgwater, Avon and Somerset Police said.

“Currently there are no delays on motorways in our area due to protest activity but some motorists may experience longer journey times today,” they added.

Holidaymakers tell of long queues at Port of Dover

08:58 , Elly Blake

People stuck in queues at the Port of Dover have vented their frustration amid the ongoing travel chaos.

One person said the queue to enter the port was 3.5 miles long and there was “no chance” of them making their 9.15am ferry.

Another called traffic control at the port a “shambles”. They said it took three and a half hours from the car park to the Port and they had “now been sat in a lane for 1 hour while other lanes have emptied multiple times”.

Meanwhile, a third holidaymaker wrote: “Sat trying to get through border contorl for 1.5 hours. Lots of drink and food in car but where does my 6 year old go to the toilet. Hardly the French’s fault.”

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Dover council issued warning ahead of ‘peak weekend’ for summer getaways

08:53 , Elly Blake

Dover District council issued a warning to holidaymakers ahead of the “peak weekend” for summer getaways.

Warning of disruption during the busy summer period, they said: “This is the peak weekend for the summer getaway and all cross-Channel routes are expected to be very busy.

“Please be aware for potential disruption.”

P&O Ferries tells passengers to allow six hours to board

08:50 , Elly Blake

P&O Ferries has told passengers to allow “at least six hours” to clear all security checks at the Port of Dover amid chaos on Friday.

They said in a statement: “Please be aware that there is heavy traffic at border control in the port of Dover.

“If you are booked to travel today please allow at least six hours to clear all security checks.

“Rest assured, if you miss your sailing, you’ll be on the first available once at check-in.”

Port of Dover chief executive says ‘critical incident underway’

08:24 , Elly Blake

Doug Bannister, chief executive the Port of Dover has told BBC Radio Kent: “We have got a critical incident underway.

“We have been badly let down by the French Border – insufficient resources and much slower than normal transactions, which is leading to significant congestion.”

Long queues at the Port of Dover

07:53 , Elly Blake

Staffing at French border control at the Port of Dover is “woefully inadequate” causing holidaymakers to be stuck in long queues, the Kent port said.

A “critical incident” has been declared amid passenger delays.

In a statement officials said that resources at the French border had “fallen far short of what is required to ensure a smooth first weekend of the peak summer period.”

Good morning

07:49 , Elly Blake

Good morning. We will be bringing you the latest from the fuel price protests planned across the UK on Friday.

Major disruption is expected on roads in south-west England as families set off on their summer holidays.

Superintendent Tony Blatchford of Avon and Somerset Police said: “Our protest liaison team has been engaging with the organiser so we can inform the public of the likely disruption and help to minimise it.

“Nevertheless, drivers can expect journey times will likely be longer than normal, especially on motorways, which often tend to be at their busiest at this time of year.

“We advise motorists to consider any alternative travel plans available and ensure they are suitably prepared in case they are delayed.”


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