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Dover chaos over but delays still possible, holidaymakers warned

By Aine Fox

Published 25/07/2016

Vehicles queuing at the Port of Dover in Kent, where motorists faced 12-mile tailbacks and 15-hour waits
Vehicles queuing at the Port of Dover in Kent, where motorists faced 12-mile tailbacks and 15-hour waits

Delays for travellers heading towards Dover eased last night but motorists have been warned to expect some disruption for weeks to come.

Holidaymakers faced hours on gridlocked roads this weekend as some spent the night in their cars as they tried in vain to get to the port.

By Sunday afternoon Kent police said the situation had returned to normal, with those on the roads facing a wait of about 30 minutes on the A20 approach to Dover.

UK Border Force officials have been drafted in to work with French border police after the Government admitted motorists had suffered "extraordinary disruption" as the great summer getaway began on Friday.

At one stage there were 12-mile tailbacks and people endured 15-hour waits. Police said the disruption is down to a "vast volume of holiday traffic" coupled with delays caused by heightened security at the border in the wake of terror attacks.

Increased checks were put in place by French authorities at the port but questions have been raised about staffing levels to deal with the huge number of people travelling at this time.

After complaints that just one French officer was available to check in coaches on Friday night into Saturday, port authorities said six booths - four for cars, one for coaches and one for freight traffic - were manned overnight into Sunday.

Police said the "large volume" of holiday traffic coupled with heightened security checks "could, however, mean some delays over the next few weeks".

They had initially predicted severe disruption could last into today.

Water supplies were dropped along the jam by a police helicopter on Saturday, as motorists rationed their food and drink during the standstill.

A Sikh humanitarian relief organisation also pitched in with the effort, delivering nearly 6,000 bottles of water along with snacks to the stranded motorists.

Motorists set to travel to Dover are still being advised to take food and water with them in case of delays.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham accused the Government of being "caught ill-prepared once again", warning the Prime Minister should have expected heightened security checks in France.

Following a day of disruption the Home Office announced late on Saturday that it would be sending the UK Border Force to help French border police, and said police would be "proactively managing traffic" to get people moving.

Among those affected by the disruption was multiple sclerosis sufferer Tanya Cudworth whose journey to Dover from Tunbridge Wells took 20 hours.

The 50-year-old, who was travelling to a Frankfurt clinic to undergo stem cell treatment for her condition after raising £5,000 for the trip, described the experience as "absolutely horrendous".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she sympathised with those caught up in the chaos, but said security is "paramount".

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