In an unprecedented statement on the first day of the big holiday rush, the Port of Dover has attacked the French for “woefully inadequate staffing” that will ruin the start of the getaway.
The port has told motorists to allow extra time for their journeys, while ferry company DFDS warned travellers to give themselves four hours for the check-in and border control process.
The port’s statement reads: “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 per cent and have 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.”
The statement ends: “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.”