Dover: Roads Return To Normal

Traffic has returned to normal levels around the Port of Dover following huge delays for holidaymakers over the weekend.

Some people had to spend the night in their cars after a combination of high volumes of traffic and increased security checks by French border staff led to gridlock with 12 mile tailbacks and waits of up to 15 hours on the A20/M20 and A2 at the height of the problems.

The chaos started on Friday night as tens of thousands of holidaymakers tried to get a head start getting across the Channel after the schools broke up.

But the French border check booths at Dover were understaffed which caused queues to build. Kent County Council says there was just one member of staff on overnight dealing with hundreds of coach passengers - taking up to 40 minutes per vehicle.

Water supplies were dropped along the jam by police helicopter on Saturday, and a Sikh humanitarian relief organisation also delivered nearly thousands of bottles of water along with snacks to the stranded motorists. Temporary toilets were also set up along the route into the port.

By Sunday afternoon 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''.

But there is a warning that the large volume of holiday traffic expected before the schools go back, coupled with heightened security checks could mean more delays over the next few weeks''.

Motorists set to travel to Dover are still being advised to take food and water with them, and make sure they have enough fuel, just in case of delays.

It comes as the head of the port of Calais has said he is "ashamed'' about the huge delays British holidaymakers have faced at Dover.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, president of the Cote d'Opale Chamber of Commerce, which runs the port of Calais, insisted he would complain to the French authorities about the failure to prepare for increased border checks.

He said French border staff should have been better organised and prepared.