Felixstowe Port’s ongoing attempts to resolve traffic congestion and slow turnaround times have been dealt a blow, after the chief executive of rival Peel Ports said customers should snub it in favour of northern terminals.

Mark Whitworth said retailers and importers needed to tell freight forwarders and shipping lines that “enough was enough”.

Felixstowe has been plagued with problems ever since it introduced a new IT system in June. In July, the RHA demanded compensation for the subsequent delays suffered by hauliers, something the port’s owner Hutchinson Ports ruled out.

But now Liverpool Port has waded into the row, highlighting retailers’ increased fees, spiralling haulage prices and the prospect of job losses as reasons why the UK’s busiest container port should be avoided.

Whitworth said: “Even before the current issues at Felixstowe it made complete sense to avoid the growing congestion both at the southern ports and on the roads and railways used for bringing containers north.

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“But the long delays at Felixstowe have now made it an imperative for shipping companies and importers to think again. I’m calling on retailers to avoid a doomsday scenario for themselves, their staff and their customers and demand they look north.”

A spokesman for Felixstowe port said it would not be responding to the comments.

However, one regular haulier to Liverpool port said he doubted it could handle any more business.

Colin Greenhough said: “The current state of the port is not too bad, but that’s only because it’s quiet. They’re just not getting the volumes through. Once it does it will be utter chaos.

“Somewhere between 30% and 40% of the pads HGVs sit on [for loading/unloading containers] are currently out of service.

“It’s the same with the new terminal they have opened: it’s not operating anywhere near its full capacity and yet turnaround times are painfully slow.”

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