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.
0730 Friday 22nd July 2022