Hauliers’ representatives pressed home to MPs last month the need for more action at the port of Calais to allow freight to pass through unhindered by the actions of illegal migrants.
Giving evidence to the Home Affairs select committee on the situation in Calais, Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett and Freight Transport Association deputy chief executive James Hookham pointed out that full consignments – including fresh produce – had to be written off when lorries were broken into by those seeking passage to the UK. It was a hidden cost for the industry running into millions of pounds, they said.
Mr Burnett said his key message for the committee was that the French must take action now to do whatever is necessary to restore order in the Calais area. “The current response is inadequate and the crisis is escalating,” he said.
He said drivers were being threatened with bars and knives. “We have had an example of a driver being threatened with a gun,” he told the hearing. “This is unprecedented.” He said that to wait until November for the secure parking area in Calais, which home secretary Teresa May announced last month, to be put in place was “simply too late”. “We need more police and, if it is not the police, then the military,” he said.
John Keefe, director of public affairs at Eurotunnel, told the committee that the number of migrants at Calais had risen from 600 at the start of the year to 5,000.