Dover MP, Natalie Elphicke, has highlighted the detailed planning that went into the peak holiday getaway weekends as key to preventing lengthy gridlock on Kent roads. Natalie said that weeks of preparations had gone into the Summer planning, with the MP holding meetings with Ministers, the Kent Resilience Forum and the Port of Dover to ensure that more steps were undertaken to keep traffic running through the town, as this year’s getaway proved the biggest test yet since Brexit.
This year’s summer getaway presented the Kent road network with its biggest major challenge post-Brexit as visitor numbers reached their highest levels since 2019. While there was some congestion in the town, it was through effective planning and the implementation of a range of measures that prevented Dover from the gridlock that has been seen in some previous years.
Traffic measures in place this summer included additional French border check-in booths, working with the French border officials to include appropriate resourcing of border officers during the peak period, new processes for processing coaches, additional enforcement on lorry compliance including fines, extra licence plate recognition cameras, additional traffic marshals at key junctions and extra lorry capacity used around Ashford. In addition, highly detailed ticket and booking analysis by the Port and Ferry Companies to identify peak periods was essential to the traffic management strategy.
It is vital to build on the practical border and traffic improvements that have been made so that the town and port can both continue to thrive. With new European visa checks also due to come in next year, I am calling for technological solutions for advance check-in and facial recognition to speed holidaymakers through the Port. In addition, check-in facilities and lorry parks away from the Port are needed to ease pressure on the town. I have had a series of meetings during July with Government Ministers, the Port and Kent Resilience Forum about the upcoming changes to the border for both UK and EU checks, the need to keep Dover clear for local businesses and residents, as well as moving TAP away from Aycliffe. With £45million secured from Government levelling up funding too, it’s vital that this important work delivers at pace over the coming year.