Ferry firm demands action over huge delays at Dover

Emily Knaggs, left, and Amy Roberts
Emily Knaggs, left, and Amy Roberts
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A FERRY company has urged UK and French authorities to ensure there is no repeat of the huge delays at Dover.

Some people were forced to wait for 15 hours on gridlocked roads to reach the Kent port over the weekend.

Helen Deeble, chief executive of P&O Ferries, said holidaymakers were delayed for “completely unacceptable lengths of time” and insisted the situation “must never be allowed to happen again”.

She said: “Increased security checks at the border are completely understandable but the French authorities must provide adequate numbers of staff to ensure that these checks can be processed quickly and efficiently.

“The failure to do so at the weekend was the primary cause of the delays.”

Ms Deeble insisted that P&O Ferries did “everything we could to keep passengers moving” with extra sailings and more staff.

“We would nevertheless like to apologise to the passengers whose holidays were affected and assure them that we will be talking to the British and French authorities this week to ensure that there is no repetition of this disruption,” she added.

Holidaymakers faced hours on gridlocked roads near Dover as some spent the night in their cars as they tried to get to the port.

Delays for travellers heading towards the Channel crossing have eased but motorists have been warned to expect some disruption for weeks to come.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the Cote d’Opale Chamber of Commerce, which runs the port of Calais, insisted he would complain to the French authorities about the failure to prepare for increased border checks.

Mr Puissesseau said: “I am very ashamed of this situation. I am so sorry for the British passengers starting their holiday with so long a wait because of control.”

“When we know that there will be big traffic, as it was yesterday because it was starting holidays, it should be organised.

“And if the French police is obliged now to control because of all the terrorism we are facing, I can understand it but what I cannot understand is that they don’t put enough policemen to control.”

A number of Yorkshire people were affected by the problems at Dover at the weekend.

Emily Knaggs, 30, from Rothwell, Leeds, told The Yorkshire Post she and her friend Amy Roberts had taken an hour to travel a mile on the approach to Dover and eventually spent nine hours queueing outside the port.

She said: “We spent the last three hours looking at the back of a lorry. It’s so frustrating.”

Another traveller, Rachael Mellor, 52, of Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, said she waited in the approaches to Dover for 19 hours before catching a ferry early on Sunday morning.

Ms Mellor, a keen cyclist and member of Holmfirth Cycling Club, was heading to Chantilly for the Tour de France. She said: “I rode from the queue to the local shop four miles away to fetch water, biscuits and gluten-free food for people struggling in cars around us – some people were getting desperate.”