Port of Dover gridlock could worsen over weekendon July 23, 2022 at 3:23 am

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With schools now closed, Saturday could see even more disruption than Friday, AA warns.

Cars queueing towards DoverImage source, PA Media

Travellers have been warned that the gridlock in Dover, which led to six-hour queues on roads to the port on Friday, could get worse this weekend.

The Port of Dover declared a “critical incident” on Friday due to miles-long queues leading to the ferry terminal.

But the AA warned disruption could be even worse this weekend because schools have now broken up for the holidays.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has called on France to act over the “entirely avoidable” delays at the border.

With most schools in England and Wales breaking up for summer this week, the RAC said an estimated 18.8 million leisure trips were planned in the UK between Friday and Monday.

Jack Cousens, AA roads policy chief, said drivers should continue to expect disruption and delays on major holiday routes to the south-west, eastern coast and ports of Dover and Folkestone.

He said: “While many have decided to go at the start of the summer holidays, between now and the beginning of September when schools return, each Friday and Saturday will be busy on our roads.”

Queues at Dover on 22 July

Image source, PA Media

By Friday evening, traffic queues four miles long had formed on the eastbound M2.

The Port of Dover and the UK government blamed the delays on France, saying they did not have enough border staff.

French authorities in turn blamed an “unforeseeable technical incident” in the Channel Tunnel – but Eurotunnel rejected this explanation.

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Seven hours to get on a boat

Janousek family

Image source, Janousek

Brothers Ben and Eric Janousek set off from Tunbridge Wells in Kent at about 05:00 BST on Friday – but told the BBC it took “seven or eight hours to get on a boat” at the Port of Dover.

Ben says they had “very little information” about delays to their trip and relied on BBC News and Twitter to find out what was happening.

It has been “pretty gruelling” and they’re “pretty tired now” but he says they are pleased to have made it to France.

The family – who are driving their children for an annual trip to the Czech Republic – are now close to the Belgium border and Ben says they’re planning to “enjoy the rest of their trip”.

Another family said they moved about a mile and a half in over four hours:

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‘Entirely avoidable’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the delays were “unacceptable” and the situation was “entirely avoidable”.

She said: “We need action from France to build up capacity at the border to limit any further disruption for British tourists.”

But Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, said problems at the port would reoccur “because of Brexit”.

He told the BBC: “This is an aftermath of Brexit. We have to run more checks than before.”

Mr Dumont also said the Port of Dover was “too small” and there were too few kiosks due to lack of space.

Ferry operator P&O Ferries advised passengers to arrive prepared with snacks and water, warning of heavy traffic at border control.

Shortly after 20:00, P&O said queues were now easing and the time to reach border controls was around 90 minutes to two hours.

Earlier, people were urged to allow at least six hours to clear security checks.

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