The Summer traffic preparations paid off 

Last weekend’s Summer getaway peak travel period went much better than many of us had feared. After all the problems at Easter, another major traffic disaster had confidently been predicted by the commentators. The Sun newspaper front page headlined “Hell Hol!” with a picture of traffic in gridlock on the way to our port. But while there were some difficult periods on Saturday in particular, the kind of problems we saw at Easter were avoided.

This was not due to a lack of traffic – it was down to our community campaign for serious preparation to be made for travellers to be sped into the port and onto ferries as quickly as possible. This was needed as an astonishing number of holidaymakers travelled over the weekend. It was the busiest time for the port since before the pandemic – more than 115,000 passengers, 7,000 lorries and 440 coaches.

Working with the port, the Kent Resilience Forum and Transport Ministers, we ensured there was a full focus ahead of the getaway period – and very active management on the ground. On Saturday morning, traffic built up by 9am. There was serious congestion for a few hours on Saturday, along Townwall Street in particular. However, the kind of tailbacks and traffic chaos expected were avoided.

By voicing our concerns at the highest level, our community ensured that traffic management plans were put in place so that Dover and East Kent as a whole were kept front and centre of the plans. Transport Ministers, the Port and Kent Highways well understood the need to plan ahead. In particular, they worked with the French Border Police to ensure that the right number of officers were on duty. Over the last few months, additional passport booths and new processes for dealing with coach check-ins have been installed. Traffic marshals were placed at key junctions in Dover to direct traffic and ensure that the town didn’t grind to a halt.

The work that went into the preparations paid off.  Yet we cannot be over confident as the slightest thing going wrong could so easily have tipped the balance the other way. There is another big traffic weekend up ahead next week, so we are not out of the woods yet.

It’s important to underline that as recovery from the pandemic and increased travel gather pace, things will not get easier. That’s why we need new lorry parks and check in facilities brought forward. We need to see the Dover TAP queuing system next to Aycliffe scrapped and moved back to Courtwood. Together with road improvements at the Duke of York and Whitfield roundabouts.  

Forcing preparations to be made meant that last weekend’s port traffic peak was a comparative success. But we all know there is much more to do. This week I’ll be having more meetings on the Dover traffic situation to continue to make that case for our community.  




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