News, Politics

NON Voyage! French police fault ‘specialized misfire’ for SIX-HOUR ‘bottleneck’ at Dover after claims their boundary staff neglected to turn up for work on most active day of year… also, there’ll be MORE tumult tomorrow

French police today blamed an unexpected 'technical incident' for passengers at the Port of Dover facing a six-hour wait to board ferries as the busiest summer getaway on the roads in at least eight years got underway. Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister had earlier blamed French staff for the chaos that resulted in a 'critical incident' being declared. He complained the Port had been 'badly let down' by 'insufficiently resourced' French border controls in Kent which have been 'woefully inadequate to meet our predicted demand'. But Georges-Francois Leclerc, the prefet for the Haut-de-France region, hit back - saying it was false to say that the French had not mobilised enough border officers for the huge numbers of British holidaymakers passing through. Mr Leclerc said: 'The increase in traffic for this weekend was fully anticipated and a suitable deployment was prepared. Based on a close analysis of predicted traffic, the plan was to have all the police booths manned (at Dover) by 8:30am. However an unforeseeable technical incident in the tunnel meant that police had to push back their full deployment by an hour. It was not until 9.45am that the booths were fully operational.' The French authorities added that they would work closely with their British counterparts to ensure traffic flows as smoothly as possible in the coming days - and the Port of Dover warned that tomorrow will also be a 'busy day'. Things were no better for those looking to take their car under the Channel by train, with Eurotunnel warning wait times were up to four hours for those travelling on Le Shuttle from Folkestone due to congestion on the M20. Meanwhile air passengers faced long queues in parts of London Heathrow, Manchester and Bristol airports this morning on what is expected to be an extremely busy day for air travel after schools the broke up.

French police today blamed an unexpected ‘technical incident’ for passengers at the Port of Dover facing a six-hour wait to board ferries as the busiest summer getaway on the roads in at least eight years got underway. Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister had earlier blamed French staff for the chaos that resulted in a ‘critical incident’ being declared. He complained the Port had been ‘badly let down’ by ‘insufficiently resourced’ French border controls in Kent which have been ‘woefully inadequate to meet our predicted demand’. But Georges-Francois Leclerc, the prefet for the Haut-de-France region, hit back – saying it was false to say that the French had not mobilised enough border officers for the huge numbers of British holidaymakers passing through. Mr Leclerc said: ‘The increase in traffic for this weekend was fully anticipated and a suitable deployment was prepared. Based on a close analysis of predicted traffic, the plan was to have all the police booths manned (at Dover) by 8:30am. However an unforeseeable technical incident in the tunnel meant that police had to push back their full deployment by an hour. It was not until 9.45am that the booths were fully operational.’ The French authorities added that they would work closely with their British counterparts to ensure traffic flows as smoothly as possible in the coming days – and the Port of Dover warned that tomorrow will also be a ‘busy day’. Things were no better for those looking to take their car under the Channel by train, with Eurotunnel warning wait times were up to four hours for those travelling on Le Shuttle from Folkestone due to congestion on the M20. Meanwhile air passengers faced long queues in parts of London Heathrow, Manchester and Bristol airports this morning on what is expected to be an extremely busy day for air travel after schools the broke up.

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French police today faulted a surprising ‘specialized episode’ for travelers at the Port of Dover confronting a six-hour hold back to board ships as the most active summer escape on the streets in no less than eight years started off.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Banister had before faulted French staff for the mayhem that brought about a ‘basic episode’ being pronounced. He whined the Port had been ‘severely let somewhere near’ ‘deficiently resourced’ French line controls in Kent which have been ‘tragically lacking to satisfy our anticipated need’.
He additionally told how staff are centered around handling the ‘basic bottleneck’ yet couldn’t guarantee the mayhem would be gone by tomorrow.

Mr Banister told BBC News: ‘This moment we will probably get the traffic going. It will take us a short time to clear the excess.

‘It’s a bustling end of the week before us, tomorrow will be a bustling day too. This is the perfect beginning of an extremely bustling summer for us so we should stand out on this until the end of the late spring, truly.’

Found out if he could console voyagers arranging an excursion throughout the next few days that the overabundance would ease, he said: ‘I truly want to – we’re putting all the consideration we can do on guaranteeing there will be an adequate number of assets set up to deal with this extremely bustling first few days of the mid year.

‘It’s this basic bottleneck… we really want to ensure assets are suitable.’

Georges-Francois Leclerc, the prefet for the Haut-de-France locale, hit back at Mr Banister – saying it was misleading to say that the French had not prepared sufficient line officials for the tremendous quantities of British holidaymakers going through.

Mr Leclerc said: ‘The expansion in rush hour gridlock during the current end of the week was completely expected and a reasonable sending was ready. In light of a nearby examination of anticipated traffic, the arrangement was to have all the police stalls monitored (at Dover) by 8:30am. Anyway an unforeseeable specialized episode in the passage implied that police needed to push back their full sending by 60 minutes. It was only after 9.45am that the corners were completely functional.’

The French specialists added that they would work intimately with their British partners to guarantee traffic streams as flawlessly as conceivable before long – and the Port of Dover cautioned that tomorrow will likewise be a ‘bustling day’.

Mr Banister had before said the Port was ‘profoundly disappointed’ by the low staffing and, ‘surprisingly, more profoundly lament the results that will currently be felt by so many’ as families attempt to go to France to start their late spring occasions. It comes on what the RAC has named ‘Unhinged Friday’ with an expected 4.29million relaxation trips via vehicle today.

Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, guaranteed French line officials ‘didn’t turn up for work’, saying there had been ‘long stretches of groundwork’ during the current week by the Port, the Department for Transport and Kent Resilience Forum, and ‘much work with French partners as well’. She went on: ‘Notwithstanding this, French line officials didn’t turn up for work at the identification controls on a case by case basis. This has created gigantic setbacks. More French officials are accounted for to show up. It’s essential that the French travel papers controls are completely staffed during this pinnacle occasion period.’

Unfamiliar Office serve Graham Stuart told Sky News: ‘We’d been anticipating this on the premise this is the greatest pinnacle snapshot of the whole year. Unavoidably consistently right now there are lines and we’ve been working intimately with the French specialists since it’s their staff, it’s their capacity to adapt and handle individuals that is causing the excess. They’ve added three extra corners and we worked intimately with them to get those staffed up.

‘Also, our group in Paris drove by Menna Rawlings, our envoy there, has worked intimately with them, and the Transport Secretary has been in touch with his partners in France in earlier days as we moved toward this.

‘However, for the people who are up to speed in it, it’s terrible, and just to say that we’re giving our very best, working with our French partners to ensure that we give our best for work with it. Be that as it may, it’s anything but a Border Force issue thusly, it is the French specialists, and nothing remains at this point but to keep on working with them.’

What’s more, it was no greater for those hoping to take their vehicle under the Channel via train, with Eurotunnel advance notice stand by times were as long as four hours for those going on Le Shuttle from Folkestone because of clog on the M20.

In the mean time air travelers confronted long lines in pieces of London Heathrow, Manchester and Bristol air terminals earlier today on what is generally anticipated to be a very bustling day for air travel after schools the split up.

With most terms in England and Wales currently finishing, the RAC said an expected 18.8million relaxation trips are arranged in the UK among today and Monday – the most since it started following summer escape numbers in 2014.

Furthermore, fuel cost fights are set to aggravate jams with the ‘Fuel Price Stand Against Tax’ bunch proposing shows will be held ‘cross country’, remembering for Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

At the Port of Dover toward the beginning of today, families leaving on summer excursions were being trapped in lengthy lines with P&O Ferries expressing not long before 8.30am that they ought to

‘if it’s not too much trouble, permit somewhere around six hours to clear all security checks’.

One Twitter client composed: ‘I’m reserved onto 8am ship from Dover and it’s complete gridlock. Moved 50 meters each hour. Going on like this it’ll be 34 hours before I get to the port! I have a shouting baby and three-month-old.’ Another depicted how they had been ‘holding up five hours nevertheless not in the port’, adding:

‘Zero development.’

Travelers setting out on cross-Channel sailings from Dover should go through French line checks before they can board. The port said it has expanded the quantity of line control corners by 50% and shared traffic volume gauges ‘in granular detail’ with the French specialists, yet the French

‘asset has been lacking’.

The French boundary checks – where French line police actually take a look at travelers’ identifications – are situated in the Port of Dover before they board ships, yet just six of the 12 corners were open toward the beginning of today, as per BBC News. Immense lines developed today in the town, gridlocking streets including the A20 prompting the Eastern Docks.

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Vehicles queue at Dover in Kent today after the Port declared a 'critical incident' as queues built up

PORT OF DOVER: Vehicles queue at Dover in Kent today after the Port declared a ‘critical incident’ as queues built up

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways
MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport's Terminal Two this morning

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport’s Terminal Two this morning

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways
KENT: Traffic queuing to leave the closed coastbound M20 in Kent this afternoon as families embark on getaways
FOLKESTONE: Traffic is almost at a standstill around the Folkestone area today amid mass problems on the Kent coast

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue for check-in on a Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flight at Heathrow today

PORT OF DOVER: Vehicles queue at Dover in Kent today after the Port declared a 'critical incident' as queues built up

PORT OF DOVER: Vehicles queue at Dover in Kent today after the Port declared a ‘critical incident’ as queues built up

FOLKESTONE: Traffic is almost at a standstill around the Folkestone area today amid mass problems on the Kent coast

FOLKESTONE: Traffic is almost at a standstill around the Folkestone area today amid mass problems on the Kent coast
BRISTOL AIRPORT: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol Airport encounter lengthy queues early this morning
BRISTOL AIRPORT: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol Airport encounter lengthy queues early this morning

PORT OF DOVER: Huge queues at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as ferry companies warned of six-hour waits

PORT OF DOVER: Huge queues at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as ferry companies warned of six-hour waits

LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT: Queues this morning at London Stansted Airport as passengers wait to check in baggage

LONDON STANSTED AIRPORT: Queues this morning at London Stansted Airport as passengers wait to check in baggage

M5: Sudden heavy showers break out over the M5 motorway in the South West today amid heavy congestion

M5: Sudden heavy showers break out over the M5 motorway in the South West today amid heavy congestion

LONDON ST PANCRAS STATION: Queues for Eurostar services at London St Pancras today as the school holidays begin

LONDON ST PANCRAS STATION: Queues for Eurostar services at London St Pancras today as the school holidays begin

M25: Heavy traffic on the M25 Junction 11 yesterday afternoon at the school summer holidays begin

M25: Heavy traffic on the M25 Junction 11 yesterday afternoon at the school summer holidays begin

One railway manager has had to pay £400 to travel to Germany with his elderly mother amid the long queues. John Till, 45, and his mother, Edna Johnson, 87, were due to travel to the Port of Dover this afternoon from west Dorset, but reports of long travel queues there prompted him to make other plans.

A day of thunderstorms and heavy showers has been forecast for parts of Wales, the South West and central southern England – in a deluge is set to hit today after days of record-breaking temperatures for the UK.

The Met Office has placed a yellow weather warning across most of south and mid-west Wales, and areas including Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, Hampshire and Sussex. Slow-moving heavy showers and thunderstorms are predicted between 10am and 10pm.

There is 1in (25mm) of rain expected in less than an hour in some places, with the possibility of up to 2in (50mm) within two to three hours. People can expect to see spray and sudden flooding which could lead to difficult driving conditions and road closures.

Train and bus services could be delayed or cancelled in places with flooding and lightning strikes. There is a slight chance of power cuts, and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost, meteorologists say.

It follows a week in which the UK has for the first time seen temperatures over 40C (104F), with a provisional 40.3C recorded in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday.

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’.

Mr Till 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.’

P&O Ferries initially said just after 6.30am:

‘There are currently queues in excess of four hours to reach the border controls. Our check in remains free flowing and once you reach us, we will put you on the first available sailing. Please arrive prepared for a prolonged wait- carry snacks and additional water with you.’

But around two hours later, it posted an update saying:

‘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. ‘

DFDS added:

‘Please allow 4 hours to complete the check in process & border controls at the Port. Please be rest assured that upon arrival at check-in, we will accommodate you onto the next available sailing.’

The delays are much worse than expected – with the Port having warned last week that passengers should

‘expect average wait times of around 60-90 minutes for French border controls at the port during peak periods’.

Mr Bannister told BBC Radio Kent today: ‘We’ve got a critical incident under way. We’ve been badly let down this morning by the French border.

‘Insufficient resources and much slower than then even normal transactions, which is leading to significant congestion around the port this morning.’

He said it will be ‘a very difficult day’ and the situation has been ‘escalated to the highest levels in our government’.

He added:

‘I would consider holding off heading for the port at this point in time until more is known. It is really difficult to get into town this morning.’

Speaking later on BBC News, Mr Bannister said it was ‘immensely frustrating’ to be ‘let down’ by poor resourcing at the French border.

He said that the port had shared ‘granular detail’ on an ‘hour-by-hour basis’ about the amount traffic it was expecting, but that it became clear at around 4am that there would be a ‘challenge’.

LONDON KING'S CROSS STATION: People at King's Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

LONDON KING’S CROSS STATION: People at King’s Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways
PORT OF DOVER: People walk with luggage through Dover in Kent today as many families embark on getaways
LONDON KING’S CROSS STATION: People at King’s Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: A man cycles with a suitcase past traffic jams in Dover this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: A man cycles with a suitcase past traffic jams in Dover this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

LONDON KING'S CROSS STATION: People at King's Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

LONDON KING’S CROSS STATION: People at King’s Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

LONDON KING'S CROSS STATION: People at King's Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

LONDON KING’S CROSS STATION: People at King’s Cross railway station in London today as many families go on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Cars queue at the check-in at the Port of Dover in Kent this morning as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays
PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays

PORT OF DOVER: Traffic jams in Dover, Kent, today as many families embark on getaways at the start of summer holidays
Dover tweets

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Port of Dover warning

Fury of holidaymakers stuck in queues at Dover

Furious Britons have reported being stuck in long queues as they wait to board ferries at Dover.

Husband and wife Alan and Sarah Hudson heading on holiday to Verdon Gorge in France for 18 days with their two children, aged 11 and 14. The delays mean they have missed two ferries and have been forced to fork out more money on extra accommodation.

Sarah Hudson is heading on holiday to Verdon Gorge in France

Sarah Hudson is heading on holiday to Verdon Gorge in France

Mrs Hudson, a GP from Maidenhead, Berkshire, said:

‘We left at 4am and should’ve got here for 6.15am but we’ve been queuing for over four hours now. We’ve already missed two ferries. I’ll be upset if we get there and they say we can’t get on the next one because we don’t have a flexible ticket or something.’

The family-of-four will need to find alternative accommodation in France because the delays mean they won’t arrive at their hotel until after check-in. Mrs Hudson added:

‘It’s about an 11-hour drive when we get to Calais. It doesn’t matter what ferry we get today, we’re not going to get into our accommodation tonight, so we’re probably going to have to book somewhere else.’

Artur Majchrzyk and his wife Sylwia have been queuing in the Kent town for more than five hours. And the couple – along with their children Nicola, 15, and Antonio, seven – still face a long journey when they’ve crossed the Channel as they’re driving to a small town near Alicante in Spain.

Artur Majchrzyk and his wife Sylwia in their car in Dover

Artur Majchrzyk and his wife Sylwia in their car in Dover

Mr Majchrzyk, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, said: ‘We left at one in the morning and we’ve been stuck here since 7.30am. It’s a long time – we all need a wee. We didn’t expect this. I’ve never seen anything like this before, we used to come every year. We’ve already missed our ferry but we’re making sure we get on the next one – they have to take us. We’re supposed to be paying for our accommodation when we get there – I don’t know if it’ll be affected.’

Mr Majchrzyk said he believes the French authorities are ‘punishing’ Britons for Brexit, adding: ‘I think they’re making our lives hell because of Brexit. They’re punishing us all the time. Everybody knows it. We’ve never had any trouble with the British authorities but there’s always problems with the French. The level of traffic today is dangerous – it’s going to cause accidents.’

Darren and Elaine Morris, from Epsom, Surrey have also been queuing in Dover for several hours – a journey which ordinarily would take just an hour-and-a-half. The couple, who are heading on holiday to southern France in their caravan, said they will need to stay overnight in Calais now due to the delays.

Mr Morris said:

‘We’ve been queuing for four hours now. I didn’t realise quite how long it would take us to travel when we got to France either – and that certainly hasn’t been helped by the traffic.’

Mrs Morris said that they had been contacted about the hold-up by P&O ferries at 3.30am. She added: ‘It was too late for us to do anything at that point because we were leaving at 4am anyway. So there wasn’t much we could do.’

Lee and Lucy Watkins are travelling to La Rochelle, west France with their daughters – 10-year-old Izzy and seven-year-old Eva, and two other families. The couple, from Bristol, stayed in nearby Folkestone overnight in a bid to beat the traffic but have still ended up still queuing for four hours. The holiday is their first in over two years since the pandemic started in 2020.

Lee and Lucy Watkins from Bristol, travelling to La Rochelle

Lee and Lucy Watkins from Bristol, travelling to La Rochelle

Mrs Watkins added:

‘It’s so annoying. We’ve waited so long for a holiday and now this. It’s taken us four hours to get here from Folkestone. We’re going to be very fed up by the time we get there.’

Other families have said their children are struggling with the long delays. Rupert and Emily Saville, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, are travelling to the Dordogne in France with their six and eight-year-old sons Freddie and George. They said the two boys were confused why they hadn’t been able to get on the ferry yet as they were due to board at 9:15am but were still queuing for border checks by 12pm.

Ms Saville added:

‘Freddie can’t get his head around the fact he’s not had breakfast yet because we normally have it on the ferry around 9am. He’s getting hungry.’

Her husband said:

‘We left at 5.45am so we’ve been in the car for six hours now. It’s a long time. But I think it’s just due to the volume of people travelling – the schools have closed. I don’t think there’s a single reason for the delays – there’s probably multiple.’

‘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.’

Delays at Dover are causing tourist and freight traffic to be stuck on gridlocked roads in the area.

Vehicles including HGVs, family camper vans and cars with bicycle racks are queuing through the town centre to reach the port, as police officers control the traffic flow around local roads and ensure roundabouts are clear.

Police were controlling traffic at the roundabout nearest to the entrance for the Port of Dover, with gridlocked vehicles lining Jubilee Way, the A2 from Canterbury, as well as the A20 along the seafront from Folkstone.

A crash on the M20 has added to the traffic chaos for motorists.

Kent Police officers were called to a crash involving a van and a lorry on the M20 coastbound between Junctions 11A and 12 at Folkestone which closed the motorway in both directions.

Trevor Bartlett, the leader of Dover District Council, said there was dismay, desperation, and anger in the town today as it was left gridlocked at the start of the summer getaway.

He said: ‘Hours of planning by the Kent Resilience Forum for the busiest weekend of the year for cross-Channel travel have gone out of the window within hours, with the Port of Dover calling a critical incident.

‘Alongside the delays for tens of thousands of tourists, the local community is the biggest loser. Residents can’t get to work, children are stranded on school buses stuck in the mayhem, and businesses are suffering. Stagecoach has suspended bus services in Dover altogether.

‘I wrote to the Kent Resilience Forum three weeks ago to express my concerns and to call for a more proactive approach to keep Dover clear. Those calls were not heeded.

‘Serious questions need to be asked about how the emergency services would be able to respond to a major incident in Dover when it is completely grid locked, and how this situation has been allowed to develop yet again?’

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.’

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

He said that other lorries kept cutting in front of him in the queue, adding: ‘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 yesterday afternoon.

Meanwhile 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. The Harberecht family had travelled from north Norfolk after a ten-day holiday around the UK and were still some way from the port.

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.

He said:

‘We have a motorhome so we could go to the toilet, we could drink something, so it wasn’t that bad for us.’

He added that they would still come to the UK again on holiday, but joked: ‘Maybe next time by bicycle or something like that’ to avoid the travel disruption.

Other travellers at Dover were told that foot passengers hoping to get to France are not being allowed to check in for ferries because Border Control is

‘overloaded’,

Krisztina, who did not give her surname, set off at 6am today with her seven-year-old daughter on the first day of her school holidays to catch a 4pm ferry to France.

They changed train tickets taking her from Cambridge down to Dover last night after receiving an email warning of the delays.

She said she had ‘lost money’ as a result because they had to book onto a peak-time train at the last minute.

Krisztina said:

‘We ended up just waiting and couldn’t even check in because I think on the French side, they check in everyone, and Border Control is not letting more people to go through because they are overloaded’.

She said she is ‘not holding out much hope’ that she will make the afternoon crossing.

MANCHESTER AIRPORT: Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport’s Terminal Two this morning

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in at Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport this morning

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in at Terminal Two of Heathrow Airport this morning

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Air passengers wait outside Bristol Airport this morning as they face lengthy queues at the hub

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Air passengers wait outside Bristol Airport this morning as they face lengthy queues at the hub

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Major queues at London Heathrow Airport this morning after the schools break up

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Major queues at London Heathrow Airport this morning after the schools break up

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol Airport encounter lengthy queues early this morning

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Holidaymakers and commuters flying from Bristol Airport encounter lengthy queues early this morning

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Major queues at London Heathrow Airport this morning after the schools break up

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Major queues at London Heathrow Airport this morning after the schools break up

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

The mother-of-one received a text message from her ferry company apologising for the delays and offering seven euros’ worth of refreshment vouchers for her and her daughter to eventually use aboard a ferry.

How chaos at Dover has been seen across France

By Peter Allen in Paris for MailOnline

The chaos caused by a lack of staff at Dover has been replicated across France this summer.

Low staffing levels, strikes and a huge increase in the number of people travelling have all caused chronic problems to those travelling to and across the country.

French workers led by trade unions have been calling for more pay and better conditions, while many laid off at the height of the pandemic have not returned to their previous duties. Daniel Bertone, of the CGT trade union – one of the biggest in France – said:

‘There are serious recruitment difficulties across the sector,’ and ‘staffing levels are too low.’

Olivier Traniello, another trade union leader, said management had

‘drastically reduced staff numbers, while we return to the traffic of 2019, or even higher, with teams that are no longer trained to deal with it.’

Flight cancellations have become common, along with long queues at major airports such as Charles de Gaulle, and Orly, in Paris. Queues have also regularly built up at stations including the Gare du Nord Eurostar hub in Paris, where high-speed trains leave for London.

In a joint letter to French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, multiple tour operators deplored ‘the difficulties encountered at security checkpoints at airports, forcing travel operators to get their customers to arrive three hours before departure.’ The letter continued:

‘It would seem that this situation results from the understaffing of the control services.’

A strike by EasyJet and Ryanair flight crews is likely to lead to cancellations at French airports this weekend.

Asked about the six-hour waits for passengers at Dover, and the ‘critical incident’ described by the authorities there, a spokesman for France’s Frontier Police referred questions to the Interior Ministry in Paris. In turn, there was no initial reaction from the Interior Ministry.

Despite Brexit, French border police still check passenger passports at the Port of Dover. It is part of a reciprocal arrangement, which sees British customs officers working in France.

Travellers who had been waiting at the passenger terminal building from as early as 5am for the 9.15 sailing were finally able to get on a bus to take them to a boat at around 1.35pm, more than four hours after their scheduled departure. Buses also arrived to transport passengers who were booked on 11.15am and 2pm ferries.

Earlier today, the Port of Dover said in a statement at about 7am: ‘On behalf of passengers trying to get on their way for a well-earned summer holiday, HGV drivers performing their critical role of delivering goods, our community who are severely impacted, our ferry operators awaiting their customers, our own port staff who have worked so hard in good faith and all of our Kent and Government partners with whom we have prepared together over several months for the busy summer; 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 and even more deeply regret the consequences that will now be felt by so many.

‘Knowing we are now in a new world of post-Brexit and Covid checks, we worked to increase interim French border control booths by 50 per cent and have improved traffic systems in order to build in resilience and capacity in time for the summer.

‘The Port of Dover made significant investment and delivered on this. We trained a new team of passenger champions to be on hand and assist customers at the port.

‘They are there working hard and doing all they can to help them. We also have provided enhanced amenities, such as toilets and refreshments, as well as water refilling stations, to look after customers.’

The statement said that staff at Dover have ‘worked particularly hard, and extremely positively up to now, with our Police Aux Frontieres (PAF) colleagues over recent months to plan for the traffic volumes that were fully expected’.

It continued: ‘We have shared traffic volumes in granular detail with the French authorities in order that these volumes can be matched by adequate border resource. The Dover route remains the most popular sea route to France and France remains one of the key holiday destinations for British families.

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

‘We will continue to work with all Kent partners to look after those caught up in the current situation, which could and should have been avoided, and play our part in resolving it as soon as possible.

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Air passengers wait outside Bristol Airport this morning as they face lengthy queues at the hub

BRISTOL AIRPORT: Air passengers wait outside Bristol Airport this morning as they face lengthy queues at the hub

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers queue to check-in for British Airways flights at Heathrow Terminal Five today

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers walk through Heathrow Airport's Terminal Five today before catching flights

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers walk through Heathrow Airport’s Terminal Five today before catching flights

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers sit on chairs at Heathrow Terminal Five today as the summer getaway begins

LONDON HEATHROW AIRPORT: Passengers sit on chairs at Heathrow Terminal Five today as the summer getaway begins

LONDON ST PANCRAS STATION: Queues for Eurostar services at London St Pancras today as the school holidays begin

LONDON ST PANCRAS STATION: Queues for Eurostar services at London St Pancras today as the school holidays begin

‘Working with and through the UK government, we will also liaise constructively with PAF to work through the present logjam and to stress again the importance of adequate French border resource for the coming days and weeks on which we had previously been assured.

Port of Dover blasts ‘woefully inadequate’ French border staffing

This morning’s Port of Dover statement in full:

‘On behalf of passengers trying to get on their way for a well-earned summer holiday, HGV drivers performing their critical role of delivering goods, our community who are severely impacted, our ferry operators awaiting their customers, our own port staff who have worked so hard in good faith and all of our Kent and Government partners with whom we have prepared together over several months for the busy summer; 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 and even more deeply regret the consequences that will now be felt by so many.

‘Knowing we are now in a new world of post-Brexit and Covid checks, we worked to increase interim French border control booths by 50% and has improved traffic systems in order to build in resilience and capacity in time for the summer. The Port of Dover made significant investment and delivered on this. We trained a new team of passenger champions to be on hand and assist customers at the port. They are there working hard and doing all they can to help them. We also have provided enhanced amenities, such as toilets and refreshments, as well as water refilling stations, to look after customers.

‘We have worked particularly hard, and extremely positively up to now, with our Police Aux Frontieres (PAF) colleagues over recent months to plan for the traffic volumes that were fully expected. We have shared traffic volumes in granular detail with the French authorities in order that these volumes can be matched by adequate border resource. The Dover route remains the most popular sea route to France and France remains one of the key holiday destinations for British families. We know that resource is finite, but the popularity of Dover is not a surprise. Regrettably, the 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.

‘We will continue to work with all Kent partners to look after those caught up in the current situation, which could and should have been avoided, and play our part in resolving it as soon as possible. Working with and through the UK government, we will also liaise constructively with PAF to work through the present logjam and to stress again the importance of adequate French border resource for the coming days and weeks on which we had previously been assured. We have to work as a team, and when we do the system works incredibly well, but it is reliant on every team member playing their part.’

‘We have to work as a team, and when we do the system works incredibly well, but it is reliant on every team member playing their part.’

Reacting to the statement, travel expert Simon Calder, the Independent’s travel editor, told Sky News:

‘We have seen an unprecedented statement from the Port of Dover attacking the French Police Aux Frontieres, the border staff who conduct the passport checks on this side of the channel before people sail to Calais.’

Explaining the problems, he continued: ‘Since Brexit everybody has to have their passport not just looked at but properly stamped. That’s something that we insisted on when we left the EU.

‘That takes far longer than the previous checks where people just typically waved their passport at the guards and they were waved through. As a result of that, the Port of Dover has put on lots of new facilities, increasing by 50 per cent the amount of space for people to get through.’

He added: ‘The start of the great getaway has been ruined. Terrible news of course for families who were thinking they might avoid airport chaos by taking the car abroad.

‘There’s clearly going to be problems there – DFDS is currently warning of four-hour delays at French border control and I fear that those could increase as the morning goes on and of course the busiest day for the getaway is going to be tomorrow.’

Mr Calder continued:

‘There’s no point at all turning up earlier than you were booked. The chances are that you would miss your ferry departure because frankly the queues are simply too long. The operators are all saying just turn up, get through when we can, we will put you on the next available ferry.’

A later statement at 1pm by the Port of Dover 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’.

It 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.’

Meanwhile leisure traffic volumes look set to peak tomorrow, a survey of 1,700 UK motorists suggested.

Transport analytics company Inrix believes the M25 – London’s orbital motorway – could see some of the worst jams, singling out the stretches between Bromley and the Dartford Crossing; Maple Cross and the M3; and the M23 to the M40.

The A303 near Stonehenge, Wiltshire, the M4 between Cardiff and Newport in south Wales, and the M5 south of Bristol are also likely to see queuing traffic at various points this weekend.

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said the organisation expects the summer getaway to ‘begin with a bang as a potentially record-breaking number of drivers take to the roads this coming weekend – and that’s despite the unbelievably high cost of fuel’.

He continued: ‘With school terms in England and Wales finishing this week and millions of people ready for a well-earned break, we anticipate a frantic Friday followed by a woeful weekend on major roads across the country, with traffic and congestion likely peaking on Saturday.

‘The advice to drivers heading off on a holiday by car is therefore clear – leave as early as you can in the morning or expect to be sat in some lengthy queues.’

Inrix transport analyst Bob Pishue said: ‘Drivers should expect traffic congestion to build throughout the day, especially on motorways.

SOMERSET: A go-slow fuel protest northbound on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning

SOMERSET: A go-slow fuel protest northbound on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place
SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Motorists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Motorcyclists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Motorcyclists on the M5 near Bridgwater in Somerset this morning where a go-slow fuel protest is taking place

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

SOMERSET: Police officers gather as go-slow fuel protests are planned from Bridgwater service station in Somerset today

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

Heavy traffic on the A102 in South East London this morning at the start of the summer getaway as the schools break up

‘Despite high fuel prices, travellers do not appear to be giving up their road trips and holidays.’

‘Big congrats’ to Gatwick as passenger experience improves following hire of 400 new security staff

One of the airports worst hit by the aviation chaos in recent months has been London Gatwick.

But things appear to have improved just in time for the summer holidays after the airport hired 400 new security staff in recent weeks to help ease queues.

Bosses said more staff are being recruited in a move aimed at reducing pressure on the airport as it goes into the busy period after the schools break up.

Twitter users have said in recent days that they have experienced a very quick passage through Gatwick, while there have been no photographs of big queues.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, tweeted yesterday: ‘Big congrats to Gatwick Airport this afternoon – it took me just 8 minutes from the train and through security (hand luggage only).

‘Queues were very, very short and there were plenty of staff at security, assisted passenger desk and check-in. Smooth on a busy day.’

Gatwick is also trying to increase awareness about placing liquids in a clear bag, separate from hand luggage, to reduce delays at security.

Chief operating officer Adrian Witherow said: ‘With passenger numbers rapidly returning to 2019 levels, we expect to be busy, particularly at peak times such as weekends and the forthcoming school summer holidays.

‘We are doing everything possible to make the airport process as smooth as possible, including recruiting and training hundreds of new security staff, many of whom have already started or will be in coming weeks.’

‘We know that breaking down can be a very upsetting experience, nobody wants to start off their holiday stranded at the side of the road, next to fast moving traffic.

‘So we are reminding drivers to check their vehicles, particularly the tyres, before setting off.’

Meanwhile fuel protests are set to make traffic jams even bigger, with Avon and Somerset Police warned motorists that ‘slow-moving roadblocks’ are planned on parts of the M4, M5, M32 and A38 this morning.

Superintendent Tony Blatchford urged drivers to consider ‘alternative travel plans’ due to the pump price protests.

He 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.’

Fuel price protests on July 4 led to 12 people being arrested on the M4.

The first stage of today’s action in the South West will see vehicles travel north on the M5 between Bridgwater and the Almondsbury Interchange from about 8.45am, then east along the M4 and to Junction 1 of the M32.

The convoy is expected to leave the motorway and stop ‘for a period of time’ before completing the same route in reverse, arriving back in Bridgwater ‘in the early afternoon’, police said.

A second group of protesters is planning to drive slowly to the Shell petrol station in Bristol Road, Bridgwater.

‘They are expected to block the forecourt during the morning,’

according to police.

Figures from data company Experian show the average price of a litre of petrol on Wednesday was 187.5p, while diesel was 196.1p.

Climate protesters caused major disruption on Wednesday by climbing onto signs above the M25.

Meanwhile, as the aviation crisis continues, the Daily Mirror reported that some baggage handlers are now being offered up to £320 extra a day as bonus overtime – which union chiefs say many are accepting despite concerns over exhaustion.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:

‘The aviation sector is being held together by the sticking plaster of workers undertaking excessive amounts of overtime. This is simply not sustainable.’

In addition, a study has claimed London Stansted is now the world’s second most expensive airport for parking, with a minimum weekly rate of £210 – beaten only by Hamad Airport in Doha, Qatar, which is £222.

The only other UK airport in a top ten compiled by driving education company Zutobi is London Gatwick at £145 per week. The world’s cheapest is Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul which is £12.78 per week.

Use FlightRadar24 to track the exact aircraft that will be flying your route: Travel expert NICKY KELVIN reveals an ‘expert level hack’ to know if you could face delays

A number of UK airports have seen widespread disruption in recent months, with reports from disgruntled passengers of excessive queues at all stages of their airport journey.

 From check-in, security checks, issues with baggage claim and the risk of flights being cancelled – all resulting in the unprecedented disruption like we’ve never seen before.

With the peak summer holiday season about to get underway, travellers should be prepared for the problems to persist and we’d recommend allowing plenty of time to get to the airport and through the various stages before departure.

We would suggest taking public transport to airports, rather than driving which can cause additional stress and delays.

To mitigate queues at security, many airports sell access to priority security queues for around £5, which is a solid investment to save hours of queuing to get through a normally stressful stage of the airport experience.

Before heading to the airport, stay up to date with the latest information.

Check airport arrival and departure boards online and keep an eye on your airline’s website to ensure that your flight is still proceeding as normal.

For an expert level hack, I would recommend using FlightRadar24 which allows you to track the exact aircraft that will be flying your route.

You’re then able to see where this plane is and whether it has made it out of its previous destination.

Having this information will put you ahead of other passengers (and potentially even some airline staff) to help you determine whether you will be encountering any delays ahead of your trip.

Finally, If your flight is cancelled or delayed, you may be entitled to compensation and depending on the circumstances, you should conduct proper research to find out what money you may be owed.

Travellers should be aware of UK261/EU261 legislation which protects them for flight cancellations and delays and provides very passenger-favourable rights and remedies, some more unknown, like the right to be rerouted even on different airlines if your flight has been cancelled.

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