Kent County Council and its local partners have called for an urgent national response to the chaos and delays approaching the Port of Dover after distributing water and food to those affected through the weekend.
Toby Howe, tactical lead for the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) and the county council’s highways lead, warned that next weekend is again likely to see thousands of holidaymakers and truckers queueing for hours to cross the channel.
He said: ‘We have a traffic management plan where we can control freight, in particular, to enable traffic to get to the Eurotunnel and the Port of Dover. The trouble is, it is on a knife edge. It takes very little to disrupt that plan.’
Local authorities and transport bodies urged the Government to increase investment in the ‘fragile’ infrastructure in Dover, saying that minor issues could ‘expand the chaos’.
Kent CC instigated its business continuity plan early last week in anticipation of problems. It includes:
- Residential care services reviewing staffing rotas to ensure a safe level of service while minimising staff travel
- A review of delivery of food, medicines and waste collection services
- Reallocating staff where necessary.
County council staff coordinated KRF partners in distributing food and water to the thousands of people stuck in queues.
The KRF lead for driver welfare, Kent CC manager Andy Jeffery, said ‘With drivers facing such significant delays overnight, it was important to deliver supplies to make sure people were safe and well.’
He added: ‘In characteristic Kent style everyone is pulling together, and I cannot thank our team enough for their help and support.’
There are safety concerns about such work however.
However, the leader of Dover DC, Cllr Trevor Bartlett, said there was ‘dismay, desperation and anger’ in the town – which was ‘gridlocked on the first day of the summer getaway’.
He said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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.
Neither Kent CC nor the resilience forum responded to his comments.
This article first appeared on themj.co.uk.