A second MyFerryLink strike at Calais spreads to DFDS and P&O as hauliers avoid the French Channel port – and even the UK – in face of migrant and industrial action threat.
Also, Portuguese crackdown on wild camping. An inauspicious but predictable start for the new ‘circulation plan’ in central Brussels. EU unveils proposed transport projects set to receive €13.1bn. Mercedes’ Secret SLS on a 1950s Stelvio.
NEW STRIKE SPREADS IN CALAIS
Repeat wildcat MyFerryLink strike suspends all Dover-Calais ferry services.
Another strike by MyFerryLink workers today raises doubts whether the Dover-Calais operator’s ships will ever be seen in service again.
MyFerryLink initially tweeted that the morning services had been cancelled due to industrial action. It later said crossings were suspended ‘until further notice’.
Two of the firm’s ferries will transfer to DFDS on Wednesday. The third will be retained by owner Eurotunnel in an agreement finalised last week.
The strike was initially limited to MyFerryLink but from 14:30 both DFDS and P&O suspended services Dover-Calais services. It was reported at the same time that MyFerryLink directors had lost of court case in Boulogne to prevent the ships’ sale.
It follows last week’s blockade of the port and Eurotunnel’s access roads. On Saturday afternoon, DFDS reported brief disruption in Calais due to industrial action by Chamber of Commerce staff. Earlier that day more than 500 people marched in Calais town centre in support of MyFerryLink workers according to mayor Natacha Bouchart.
Meanwhile, early this morning Eurotunnel freight services were suspended due to ‘significant migrant disturbance overnight’. They resumed by 07:30, initially with very long delays, but were back on track by lunchtime. The firm has yet to respond to requests for further comment.
There are signs that the combination of MyFerryLink strikes and migrant activity is putting hauliers off from using Calais, and perhaps even avoiding the UK all together.
On Friday, the Freightex road transport company issued a statement warning against price rises as fewer trucks would be available through the Channel port.
It quotes a customer saying, ‘According to the situation of immigrants in Calais (North of France), we are going to send less trucks to GB. We cannot take this risk, it’s catastrophic. If we send the drivers there they will be in jeopardy. We hope the French and the UK government will solve this problem ASAP.”
Also on Friday, Lee Johnson from RGF Logistics in Birmingham told the Mirror newspaper the firm has ended all European deliveries to protect drivers from harm in Calais.
The day before, Kevin Hopper, managing director of Brian Yeardley Continental, tweeted, ‘Four trucks at P&O Zeebrugge last night. Safety first, keeping driers and loads safe away from Calais is our number one priority.’
The UK Home Office has reportedly announced today it will build new security fencing around the Eurotunnel freight terminal in France, similar to the one already erected around Calais port. The 2.5 mile, nine feet high fence should be completed by late July.
Whether that will be enough to tempt hauliers back to Calais – to say nothing of tourists during the summer season – remains to be seen.
roundup: PORTUGAL. Police in Portimao in the south west are cracking down on wild campers reports The Portugal News. Though Portugal has liberal laws on long term motorhome parking, it is an increasing issue in some places: last year campers were evicted from Silves in the Algarve. This latest action centered on the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park (PNSACV) where overnight stays are prohibited. Twenty two eviction notices were handed out. BELGIUM. Drivers heading into Brussels this morning faced an arduous commute on the first day of the new circulation plan. Delays of more than an hour on the R20 inbound to the Pentagon ring road first thing, for instance, only dipped below thirty minutes after lunch. Police cited accidents and road works for the delays but transport agency Brussel Mobiliteit directly blamed the new enlarged pedestrian zone – which doubled in size to fifty acres from this morning – according to Deredactie.be. City centre traffic is now directed around a new, mainly one-way ‘local ring’. Brussel Mobiliteit says delays will lessen in the coming days and weeks as motorists adapt. The circulation plan will be reviewed in eight months. Update: latest reports via Le Soir say it will take three days for drivers to get used to the new arrangements. TRANSPORT. The EU has published the proposed projects set to receive €13.1bn in funding under its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Along with public and private cash the total amount invested is expected to reach €28.8bn. The money is targeted at bottlenecks and cross-border connections. The majority is for rail but eye catching road projects include €589m for the Fehmarn Fixed Link (including rail) between Denmark and Germany and €7.5m for a second Karawanke Tunnel tube between Austria and Slovenia. There is also €82m towards Calais Port redevelopment, €7.5m for truck parking and €75m for Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) projects. The projects must next be approved by the CEF Committee on 10 July. More on this soon.