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Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott speaks of economic strain during Calais industrial action

Chaos caused by last week’s Calais strikes have been described as “turning off the tap that helps the UK’s trade to flow.”

The Port of Dover’s chief executive Tim Waggott gave his take on the impact the industrial action had on trade.

In an open letter, Mr Waggott said: “How could you equate the importance of keeping such valuable trade moving with the incredible disruption caused at a major international gateway – Calais – by the mob rule of a small number of aggrieved militant Frenchmen? We certainly cannot.

Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott.
Port of Dover chief executive Tim Waggott.

“Unless supermarkets with empty shelves and assembly lines with vital parts missing are to become acceptable, then clearly under no circumstance should the recent situation be allowed to happen again.”

He said it is not about where to place the next lorry park - the debate lies around the impact it has on businesses in the UK and across the continent.

Last week's industrial action cost the nation £1bn.

“This is not an immigration issue; neither should it result in navel gazing and meaningless statements on the need for mega lorry parks,” he said.

“This is a debate about our trading island nation maintaining the economic recovery. That is the challenge and what we have seen recently is the stark reality of what happens when Dover is prevented from doing its job by the lawless actions of others.”

The Port of Dover handles 13m passengers each year - the equivalent to more than the UK’s fifth busiest airport in Birmingham.

Mr Waggott said: “Would we allow the majority of services from one of our major airports to be curtailed for several days during the summer because of a few militant French workers?

"Of course not. So why do we allow it to happen to an equivalent passenger hub at Dover that also handles £100 bn of the nation’s trade at the same time on a core EU transport corridor?

“The UK and French governments need to make sure we can continue to do that as it is in all of our interests.”

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