Traffic at the Port of Dover is once again “flowing normally” after days of lengthy queues created travel chaos for holidaymakers.
Extra post-Brexit border checks and French authorities’ understaffing of checkpoints in Dover have been blamed for the hold-ups.
However, the port said on Twitter that as of 2.15am on Sunday the system brought in temporarily to manage excess traffic in the area had ended and traffic can proceed directly to the port.
The tweet said: “#TrafficUpdate at #PortofDover at 0215hrs. TAP is off for freight traffic. Freight can travel straight to the Port.
#TrafficUpdate at #PortofDover at 0215hrs. TAP is off for freight traffic. Freight can travel straight to the Port. Tourist traffic is also clear in the Port. The approach roads to the Port (A2 / A20) are flowing normally.
— Port of Dover Travel (@PoD_travelnews) July 24, 2022
“Tourist traffic is also clear in the Port. The approach roads to the Port (A2 / A20) are flowing normally.”
Scenes of gridlocked roads and bumper-to-bumper cars seen on Friday were repeated on Saturday as thousands of travellers endured lengthy queues and some lorry drivers saw waits of more than 18 hours.
It comes during one of the busiest periods for foreign travel from the UK as most schools in England and Wales have broken up for summer.
Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss said disruption at the Port of Dover was the fault of French authorities when asked if Brexit was the reason for the transport chaos.
Speaking at a campaign visit in Kent, she said: “This is a situation that has been caused by a lack of resource at the border.
“And that is what the French authorities need to address and that is what I am being very clear with them about.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office later tweeted a statement from Ms Truss, announcing she had spoken to French foreign minister Catherine Colonna.
She said: “I was clear the French authorities have not put enough people on the border and we need to see action from then to resolve the terrible situation which travellers, including families, are facing.”
The message came after a tweet from Ms Colonna, who stated the pair had a “good talk”.
Ms Colonna added: “We welcomed the cooperation between our competent technical services to reduce the delays. Need also to improve the facilities of the port of Dover.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on delays at the UK-French border: pic.twitter.com/OvLNMoecrH
— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) July 23, 2022
But French politician Pierre-Henri Dumont, Republican MP for Calais, has blamed delays on the UK’s exit from the EU, telling BBC News it was “an aftermath of Brexit” with more checks needed and claiming the Dover port is “too small” with too few kiosks due to lack of space.
Passengers embarking on cross-Channel sailings from Dover must pass through French border checks before they can board a ferry.
Port authorities said they were “relieved that French border staff (Police Aux Frontieres) have now been fully mobilised at French border controls in Dover”.
Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said it was “immensely frustrating” to be “let down” by poor resourcing at the French border, and has also stated that there will be “increased transaction times” at the border due to extra checks needed.
He later said he welcomed the “commitment shown by both French and UK authorities to resolve the issue”, and added the required staffing levels must be maintained for the rest of the summer.
Natalie Chapman, from haulier group Logistics UK, echoed concerns about French staff numbers and Brexit changes.
She said: “As I say, the cause was that lack of resource yesterday but also, of course, it takes a lot longer to process through traffic than it used to.
“You used to, prior to Brexit, just wave your passport and they may or may not be looked at but now every one is checked and stamped.”