Dover councillor Kevin Mills warns of 'calm before storm' at port town

A Dover councillor says he fears the town is experiencing "the calm before the storm" as lorries moved smoothly through the port town on the first day since the Brexit transition period ended last night.

Cllr Kevin Mills, leader of the Labour group at the local authority, said few expected trouble on day one with traffic numbers low due to the public holiday.

The roads leading to the port were quiet today - but the new systems will be fully tested over the weeks ahead
The roads leading to the port were quiet today - but the new systems will be fully tested over the weeks ahead

But he echoed warning from freight organisations when he said the real test of the new system will come in about a week's time.

He said: "I suspect this is calm before the storm, but I hope and pray we don't get to the storm.

"It was always going to be quiet today - there seems to be more TV camera crews down there rather than lorries.

"It will start to pick up over the next week or so and I would have thought in a week's time we'll actually see what impact it will or won't have."

All HGVs now heading into Kent to use either the Port of Dover or the Eurotunnel must now have applied for a Kent Access Permit ahead of making their journey - ensuring they have both the customs documents required and to help manage traffic levels.

Lorries arriving at the Port of Dover today (43792626)
Lorries arriving at the Port of Dover today (43792626)

And although both Dover and Eurotunnel reported operating "very smoothly" today, there are concerns the holiday season lull in traffic could lull many into a false sense of security.

Added Cllr Mills: "Fortunately because of the delay leaving Europe, it's given all the agencies probably 18 months longer to make sure the infrastructure is there - or not there in some cases - but the IT systems are operational.

"It's when you see the larger numbers that the pressure will come. That's when everything will be tested to the full. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will have none of the delays forecast. The jury is still out.

"The people of Dover are particularly concerned because of the complete and utter chaos we saw before Christmas.

"I don't want to see queues in Dover and flashing lights on ambulances being stuck in queues as we saw before Christmas. I'm more than happy to be wrong."

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