Families face ANOTHER day of gridlock around Dover with 19m cars hitting the roads this weekend

Families face ANOTHER day of gridlock around Dover with 19m cars hitting the roads this weekend 2
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Families are facing another day of gridlock around Dover with nearly 19million cars hitting the roads this weekend ‘after French staff caused delays’ – while protests are set to bring London to a standstill and the airport chaos rumbles on.

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Tens of thousands of Britons face having their holiday plans ruined on the first weekend of the busiest school break in nearly a decade. 

The RAC said an estimated 18.8million leisure trips are planned in the UK between today and Monday – the most since it began tracking summer getaway numbers in 2014.

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Bumper-to-bumper traffic, in seven-hour queues, made its way towards the Port of Dover on Friday – one of the busiest periods for foreign travel from the UK as most schools in England and Wales break up for summer.

The chaos sparked a bitter cross-Channel row – with a lack of French border guards being blamed.

Facing lines of cars snaking back for miles, bosses at Dover hit out at ‘woefully inadequate’ planning by their Parisian counterparts on the first day of a weekend which is expected to see as many as 20million Britons set off on their summer breaks.

The bottleneck at French border control forced ferry operators to sail with next to no passengers on board. Customers were warned to expect further serious delays at the Kent port over the weekend. 

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Families are facing another day of gridlock around Dover with 19million cars hitting the roads today 'after French staff caused delays' - while protests are set to bring London to a standstill and the airport chaos rumbles on. Pictured: Lengthy traffic queues on the M20 on Friday evening

Families are facing another day of gridlock around Dover with 19million cars hitting the roads today ‘after French staff caused delays’ – while protests are set to bring London to a standstill and the airport chaos rumbles on. Pictured: Lengthy traffic queues on the M20 on Friday evening

People make their way to the cruise terminal in Dover in Kent

People make their way to the cruise terminal in Dover in Kent

People drag suitcases down the road as they make their way to the cruise terminal in Dover in Kent

People drag suitcases down the road as they make their way to the cruise terminal in Dover in Kent

People are seen dragging their suitcases down the road on their way to Dover

People are seen dragging their suitcases down the road on their way to Dover 

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People drag their bags down the road to Dover because no taxis or buses are available

People drag their bags down the road to Dover because no taxis or buses are available

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

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

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blamed France for the delays and queues, calling them 'unacceptable' and 'entirely avoidable'

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss blamed France for the delays and queues, calling them ‘unacceptable’ and ‘entirely avoidable’ 

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

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

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

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

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was an ‘awful’ but ‘entirely avoidable’ situation. ‘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,’ added the Tory leadership hopeful. ‘We will be working with the French authorities to find a solution.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps discussed the issue with his French opposite number, Clement Beaune, yesterday. He emphasised the need for close Anglo-French cooperation in future.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, told BBC News the Port of Dover was ‘too small’ and that there were too few kiosks due to lack of space. 

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Meanwhile, fuel price protests are set to make jams even worse with the ‘Fuel Price Stand Against Tax’ group suggesting demonstrations will be held ‘nationwide’, including in Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London and Manchester. 

KENT: Traffic queuing to leave the closed coastbound M20 in Kent yesterday afternoon as families embark on getaways

KENT: Traffic queuing to leave the closed coastbound M20 in Kent yesterday afternoon as families embark on getaways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the start of the first unrestricted summer holidays since Covid struck in 2020:

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And there’s still no end to airport nightmare 

An environment minister said disruptive protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion are ‘absolutely right’ and the pressure they exert ‘does work’.

Lord Goldsmith said while they are ‘annoying’, their road blockages and property damage are productive.

The Conservative peer warned this week the Tories would be ‘digging our electoral grave’ if the next prime minister abandoned the party’s net zero commitments.

‘The principle is absolutely right,’ Lord Goldsmith told BBC Radio 4. ‘There is a real anxiety that we are heading towards a cliff and we’re not doing enough. And that’s true, we’re not. That kind of pressure… may be annoying but it works.’ Earlier this year his brother Ben made similar comments and faced calls to resign from his position as non-executive board member at Defra.

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Yesterday traffic jams built up on the M5 during a ‘go-slow’ protest against high fuel prices organised by Fuel Price Stand Against Tax. About ten vehicles drove at 20mph and affected the M5 in Somerset and routes around Bristol.

 

  • Air passengers faced lengthy queues at Heathrow, Bristol, Stansted and Manchester with around 1.3million people hoping to fly off over the weekend;
  • An estimated 18.8million Britons are also expected to hit the roads today and tomorrow – with fears of serious jams on the busiest weekend in eight years; 
  • Central London is expected to grind to a standstill today with a ‘mass swarming march’ against the cost of living squeeze;
  • Trains will grind to a halt once again next week with 40,000 RMT workers downing tools for 24 hours on Wednesday – and a further walkout of train drivers on Saturday.

Yesterday’s chaotic scenes heaped fresh misery on travellers who have already suffered months of disruptions at understaffed airports and endured strike action on the railways. But the war of words with France dominated as Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said they had been ‘badly let down’.

Port officials insist they had been preparing for a busy summer for months – doubling the number of border control booths and sharing traffic volume forecasts ‘in granular detail’ with the French.

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But French border officers operated just six of their 12 booths at Dover during the early morning.

The resulting queues stretched for miles and backed up into Dover town centre and on to the M20. Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, accused French officers of failing to turn up for work.

She added: ‘The French need to get a grip on this situation and get those passport booths staffed at maximum capacity during this critical weekend for holiday getaways.

‘The first two weekends of the summer holiday are the busiest. It’s highly likely there’ll be a repeat this weekend and next weekend.’

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Her fellow Tory MP Greg Smith claimed the French were ‘cutting off their nose to spite their own face because Brits love France’.

He said: ‘It just beggars belief that the French are not doing everything they possibly can to secure the fast flow of passengers through their border controls.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LONDON ST PANCRAS STATION: Queues for Eurostar services at London St Pancras Friday 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

The French official responsible for border management said that the delays were due to an ‘unforeseeable technical incident’.

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Their passport booth staff journey through the Channel tunnel to reach Dover.

Georges-Francois Leclerc, a regional prefect, said: ‘The plan was to have all booths manned by 8am. But an unforeseeable technical incident in the tunnel meant that police had to push back their full deployment by an hour.’

His claims were dismissed by Eurotunnel’s John Keefe who said: ‘The incident at the port started overnight well before a minor technical incident in the Channel tunnel. There is absolutely no correlation between the two.’

A port source admitted it was likely the delays would run throughout the rest of weekend and potentially into next week. ‘Once you’ve lost control of the queue, it’s hard to get it back,’ they added.

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Bernard Poon found himself trapped in the chaos with an unhappy toddler and three-month-old baby in the back of his car. ‘Moved 50 metres per hour,’ he said. ‘At this rate, it’ll be 34 hours before I get to the port.’

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

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

PORT OF DOVER: People walk with luggage through Dover in Kent Friday as many families embark on getaways

PORT OF DOVER: People walk with luggage through Dover in Kent Friday as many families embark on getaways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lorry drivers were also caught up in yesterday’s disruption with one saying he had been queueing in his HGV since 6pm on Thursday without being able to cross.

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Muhammet Turker from Turkey said: ‘I’ve been in something like this before, but this is the worst.’

He added that it eclipsed the P&O situation when workers for the ferry company protested against mass lay-offs earlier this year.   

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: ‘As the schools closed their doors fully yesterday, Saturday could prove busier still this weekend. 

‘Drivers should continue to expect disruption and delays on major holiday routes to the south-west, eastern coast and ports of Dover and Folkestone. 

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‘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. 

‘This is because these are the main switchover days for holiday lets.’

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