Holidaymakers slam ‘shambles’ at Dover after 16-hour wait

Passengers at Dover facing waits of up to five hours on Sunday

Thousands of families fear Easter holiday ­misery following chaotic scenes ­at Dover on Sunday where ­hungry children had to wait ­
16 hours to board ­ferries. A critical incident was declared as Britain’s busiest port was brought to a standstill at the weekend.

Some passengers were forced to spend all night in their vehicles because of overcrowding.

This week huge numbers of families will attempt to set off for the Continent but fear being gridlocked too.

The queues mainly affected coaches boarding DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries.

Some coach drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles as they had reached the maximum number of hours allowed behind the wheel.

The port said ferry companies received 15 percent more coach bookings than were expected.

Processing coach passengers through border control takes significantly longer than car passengers. Many of those stuck were schoolchildren on Easter holiday trips.

Mother Gillian Charlton, 43, said her son Ned, 13, and school friends were kept in a holding pen for 16 hours after travelling from Chorley, Lancs, en route to ski­­-ing in Italy.

The children were only allowed to get off the coach to use a portable loo and were given one KitKat at midnight. She said: “It’s shambolic. They were all starving. I’m disgusted.

“My son said there were hundreds of coaches behind them – mainly school kids. They should have restricted the bookings.”

Passenger Rosie Pearson was stuck for 16 hours with her husband and two teenagers attempting to travel to Val d’Isere in France. Rosie, from Essex, said: “The whole thing was a shambles, not a single bit of communication.

“It was carnage. The worst thing was no one told us ­anything for the whole 16 hours, literally nothing. It’s shocking that something this chaotic can happen.

“My children’s school has ­a ski trip this week and ­their bus was turned away last night. They had to sleep ­at ­a service station and ­come back.”

Marc Mitchell-Miles, 47, said he was “terribly upset and worried” about his 14-year-old daughter who had been stuck on a coach for over 17 hours waiting to go on a £900 ski trip.

Lily set off from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, at 3pm on Saturday with school friends for a week-long trip to Italy, he added.

“We can’t settle until we know what’s going on. There is also the cost of the trip which they’re going to be missing out on a sizeable chunk of. It cost around £900, but then there is also spending money and ski lessons.

“We wanted this to be a memorable experience, but not for this reason. They have just been advised that it could be another nine-hour wait.

“They have not been given any food by the port. She and her friends have gone out to buy some sandwiches.

“They’re tired from the journey up and have had zero sleep, and she feels like she just wants to come home and is quite teary.”

Extra sailings were put on across the weekend to try and clear the backlog but even on Sunday some were waiting up to eight hours to pass through controls.

Hold-ups at French border control have added to the ­disruption but the crisis is said to be rooted in ­decades-old infrastructure at the port.

In 2015, £250million was earmarked for lorry parks but none was ever built.

A year later some 250,000 people were stuck in tailbacks for days because of French border control chaos. Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: “It’s got to stop. These problems are avoidable. Long-term investment is needed to sort things out.”

Port of Dover chief executive Doug Bannister said that since Brexit every passport needs to be checked before a vehicle or passenger can pass through to the EU.

“And that happens here in Dover. So it does make processing more challenging.”

By Sunday afternoon most roads to the port had been cleared but coaches were still held up and sent to a “buffer zone” before heading to the docks.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman rejected suggestions Brexit was the cause and said the Easter holiday rush made ports and airports busy, adding: “I just urge everybody to be a bit patient while the ferry companies work through the backlog.”.

Travel misery had also been feared at Heathrow after a 10-day strike by Terminal 5 security staff but there were few reported problems.

Source: Read Full Article