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Ocado boss warns of price hike following trouble at Dover after Brexit as M&S reveals turbulence

By: Sean Axtell saxtell@thekmgroup.co.uk

Published: 14:03, 09 January 2021

Updated: 14:05, 09 January 2021

Consumers will bear additional costs from troubled traders following the enforcement of Brexit red tape in Kent, a retail chief has warned.

Delays and difficulties in international shipping triggered by added paperwork means the “cost will be passed on to the consumer,” Lord Rose, chairman of supermarket delivery company Ocado said.

There are concerns delays at the port of Dover could increase as more freight traffic gets back on the roads

Meanwhile, a Kent haulage firm boss predicts a “bloodbath” with the cost of travel to the UK set to “treble.”

Alongside more paperwork - including export declarations and certificates for items including plant and animal products - hauliers must secure a negative Covid-19 test and Kent Access Permit before travelling to Europe.

It comes after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove warned businesses and hauliers on Friday there is likely to be “significant additional disruption” at the UK border as a result of increasing trade traffic, particularly at Dover.

One retail chief has warned extra costs could be passed on to the consumer. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Lord Rose, the ex-Remain campaign chief and former M&S chairman, said: “You can’t interfere with a finely honed, 50-year legacy supply chain and expect it to all run smoothly on day one.

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“The issue of transport and hauliers not wanting to send their lorries here is because they are worried about their lorries being stuck and worried about lost profit, which means therefore the cost will be passed on to the consumer.

“You will see some short-term shortages but let’s be clear, there is not going to be a famine.

Lorries were queued up on the M20 when the border was closed just before Christmas. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

“Food will continue to come in, although at this time of the year 50-80%-plus of our fruit and veg comes in from Europe and beyond and a lot of that comes in through Dover on trucks.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4 today he added: “We’re talking about fresh produce which is perishable.

“If it doesn’t get out within 24 hours, it goes off, it rots, it gets thrown away – that’s lost profit, that’s a real problem for businesses both ways.”

Haulage firm boss Lorenzo Zaccheo, managing director of Alcaline UK in Lympne near Hythe, predicts the red tape will trigger a “bloodbath.”

Army soldiers handed out food and water to stranded drivers on the M20 before Christmas. Picture: Barry Goodwin

He is expecting deliveries to take two-and-a-half days longer than last year when the country was still following EU rules.

He said vehicles were currently getting stuck at ports for seven hours and European hauliers were turning down work in the UK, even when offered twice the usual rate.

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Mr Zaccheo told Today he thought the problems would go on for “months” longer.

The army was called in to help when hundreds of lorries were parked up on the M20 before Christmas .Picture: Barry Goodwin

“First of all there are not enough clearing agents out there – then you’ve got Covid, with some of them self-isolating and everything else,” he added.

“It is just a complete mess.

“This is going to be a bloodbath. Cost wise – as we’ve seen this week – the cost of transport will treble into the United Kingdom because everybody is refusing to come.

“We offered twice as much and they still don’t want to come.”

M20 Operation Stack on Christmas day..Picture: Barry Goodwin. (43850712)

Fresh Government figures show about 700 lorries have been turned away from the border since new rules came into force.

About 150 fines have been handed out for non-compliance with new rules designed to reduce truck queues in Kent.

But officials have warned those numbers could soar as the flow of lorries heading through Kent increases, with traffic drastically reduced at present.

Operation Brock has been set up on the M20 to try and keep traffic moving if there are delays at Dover. Picture: UKNIP

Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,584 lorries per day attempting border crossings, which is only around 40 per cent of historical norms, according to the Cabinet Office.

Already, major parcel courier DPD pausing some delivery services into Europe, including Ireland.

Supermarket giant Marks & Spencer has revealed the new regulations will “significantly impact” its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France.

Yesterday, KentOnline revealed truckers trying to find a new Brexit lorry park are getting lost because the government is giving them the wrong postcode.

Before Christmas, kind-hearted Mersham villagers lowered food from bridges over the M20 to truckers left stranded in Operation Stack.

How is Brexit going to affect Kent? For all the latest news, views and analysis visit our dedicated page here

Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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