NEWS
23/12/2020 09:35 GMT | Updated 23/12/2020 12:52 GMT

Tensions Flare Between Lorry Drivers And Police After French Border Reopens

Footage from Dover shows dozens of drivers surrounding officers as they face having to wait days to cross the Channel.

Scuffles have broken out in Dover between lorry drivers and police as tensions continue to flare over huge delays at the border following the travel ban. 

Despite a deal being struck between the UK and France late on Thursday night to restart movement, thousands of drivers face spending Christmas trapped in temporary lorry parks or at the roadside with extremely limited facilities.  

Up to 10,000 drivers have been caught up in the crisis, and now need to test negative for Covid-19 before crossing the Channel.

In the live footage, captured by Sky News, a crowd of dozens of lorry drivers can be seen crowding around a small number of police, loudly booing as some appear to ask officers questions. 

Things then become more heated as the crowd grows, with drivers scuffling with police as others record the angry crowd on their phones. 

As of 11am, lorry drivers at the entrance to Dover’s Eastern Docks had continued honking their horns and shouting “we want to go home” in small groups as they tried to shelter from heavy rain.

Police officers have instructed drivers to move away from the roundabout at the entrance to the port so testing facilities can be set up. 

Roadside conditions have been described as “disgraceful” by drivers, with one worker telling The Guardian that some had been left with little choice but to dig holes at the side of the road to use as makeshift toilets. 

With no immediate access to food, a group of Sikh volunteers and a local football club were among those forced to source hundreds of meals for the trapped drivers. 

There were reports of disturbances at Dover and at the lorry holding facility in Manston involving those waiting to cross the Channel on Wednesday morning, Kent Police said, confirming that one man had been arrested. 

Speaking early on Wednesday morning cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said around 4,000 lorries could be caught up in the Kent backlog.

This is less than half the estimate put forward by the Road Hauliers Association (RHA), who say there are between 8,000 and 10,000 lorries trapped in the county. 

Jenrick told Sky News it would take “a few days” to test all the drivers before they can travel to France.

“I hope that this morning you will see people and HGVs crossing the Channel,” he said.

The communities secretary said as of 7pm on Tuesday night there were just under 3,000 lorries at the disused airfield site at Manston, Kent.

Between 700 and 800 were part of Operation Stack on the M20, he said but “other HGVs and smaller vehicles are parked elsewhere in Kent”.

“Whatever the number is, whether it is 4,000 or more, it is a significant number to work through,” he acknowledged as he advised hauliers not to travel to Kent.