Trade associations have welcomed plans for a new secure zone in Calais for UK-bound HGVs but highlighted that more needs to be done to deal with the migrant crisis that has erupted in recent weeks.
Home secretary Theresa May told parliament last week: “A secure waiting area for 230 vehicles is to be set up at the port and should transform protection for lorries and their drivers, removing them from the open road where they can become targets for migrants.”
Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Committee, also last week, FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham welcomed the facility, but added: “This crisis is not going to be solved by tactical actions such as this. It will certainly be a reduction in opportunities for migrants and we welcome that.
But members are looking for an enduring solution and recognition by the French and UK government that this is a serious crisis in their territory and not something the haulage industry can be expected to deal with on its own.”
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett also said the new zone was unlikely to solve the problem and suggested its planned opening in November was “simply too late”.
Suggesting drivers had been let down by the government, he added: “The UK must pressure France to put more people on the ground now. That’s not happening in France at the moment.”
Earlier, Alan Pughsley, chief constable of Kent police, told the committee there were now an estimated 5,000 migrants in Calais seeking passage to the UK. He stressed that there had been a huge increase in the number of stowaways discovered by his force in recent weeks.
In the first five months of the year, said Pughsley, Kent police had found 26 migrants hiding on vehicles or trains; in the five weeks from 1 June, that rose to 405, and on 8 July alone, 96 stowaways were apprehended.