Port of Dover 'deeply frustrated' over Easter travel chaos as disruption continues

ITV News Meridian's Abigail Bracken reports from Dover

The Port of Dover says it's 'deeply frustrated' after it was forced to declare a critical incident following significant delays on Friday.

Coaches were particularly affected with people reporting waits of over 20 hours attempting to cross the Channel.

The port said the issues are caused blamed on a high volume of bookings because of the Easter break, bad weather and lengthy passport control waits by French border staff.

Coach loads of school children destined for ski trips were turned round at the port and sent to a service station to wait.

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On social media, concerned parents shared their frustration and claimed children were being left without food and drink.

One user said, "Just had a call from my daughter who has been stuck on her school coach for hours and driver said there are only 2 people on passport control?!! This can’t be right surely?!!"

At 9pm last night another Tweeted, "Just been on the phone to my daughter who has been there since midday they are being told they may not get a ferry until 5am."

Some coaches were told to wait at a service station for hours Credit:

Glyn School P.E. said, "After an 8 hour wait at Dover we are boarding the 4:25am ferry, when we were scheduled to be on the 8:20pm one! Hopefully no more delays at the other side and we can try to make up some time".

While another concerned parent said, "My daughters coach arrived at Dover at 4.45pm yesterday. They have been told they will be boarding the 6.30am ferry. This is an absolute disgrace!! Those poor kids spent 7 hours travelling, then 14 hours waiting in a car park on a cold coach without food, water or toilets."

Coaches have been severely affected by the chaos at the Port of Dover Credit:

DFDS Seaways and P&O Ferries said delays would continue on their services through Saturday.

Both companies urged passengers to allow extra times for their journeys.

Sir Keir Starmer urged the Government to “get a grip” of the situation at Dover.

“I really feel for people trying to get through Dover. There will have been families who have booked holidays and now they are frustrated yet again and I think the nature of the frustration will be ‘not again’.

“This is not the first time there have been problems at Dover.

“The Government needs to get a grip of this.

“You can’t have every summer holiday, every Easter holiday, the same old problem.

“And so the Government needs to get a grip on this and actually help people out in who are just trying to get away for a few days holiday.”

Meanwhile, Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke Tweeted, "Incredibly disappointing to see French border control problems once again adding to traffic mayhem just as families are trying to getaway for the Easter holidays."

In a statement, the Port of Dover said: "Whilst freight and car traffic was processed steadily regardless of the additional challenging weather conditions and high seasonal volumes, coach traffic suffered significant delays due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume. 

"Despite considerable pre-planning with our ferry operators, border agency partners and the Kent Resilience Forum and the success of similar plans for processing substantial numbers of coaches during the most recent half term period, the additional coach bookings taken by ferry operators for Easter, has impacted operations for the port.

"Through the ferry operators and the port, food and drink has been provided to those coach passengers caught up in the border queues.  

"We offer our sincere apologies for the prolonged delays that people have endured and continue to work with all of our partners to get all passengers on their way as quickly as possible."