MPs hear shocking evidence during their investigation into the Calais migrant crisis – including that the minister responsible is yet to see the problem for himself.
Also, more migrant incidents at Eurotunnel and Calais this morning as a new secure truck park is announced for Calais. Operation Stack warning. Exclusion zones set up in Paris for Bastille Day celebrations.
THE SHOCKING SCALE OF THE CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS
MPs hear migrant numbers are growing fast and that government millions may be too late.
Some truly eye-popping facts and figures emerged during today’s UK parliament Home Affairs Select Committee session on ‘The Situation at Calais’.
Aside from the £500,000 police say it cost to organise the Operation Stack freight queues in recent weeks, Alan Pughsley, chief constable of Kent Police told MPs that at its height 7,000 trucks were held on the M20.
The cost of loads lost to contamination by stowaways amounted to €1bn per year said Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), at an average loss of £30,000 per vehicle.
Just this morning twenty two illegal immigrants were found at Eurotunnel’s UK freight terminal said John Keefe, the Channel Tunnel operator’s director of public affairs.
He also said Eurotunnel had returned 28,000 attempted illegal migrants to police just in the past six months.
Meanwhile, the cost of the new secure truck park in Calais announced earlier, see below, is put at €2m.
However, the RHA’s Burnett seemed to speak for many when he said the autumn due date was too late.
‘It needs to start now,’ he said. ‘We need action now. We can’t afford to wait.’
Worryingly, the number of migrants camping out at Calais seems to be rising very quickly.
When the Committee visited the site two weeks ago numbers stood at 3000, up from 600 in January 2015 said Committee chairman Keith Vaz.
As of today, Pughsley told MPs, there were 5,000 migrants at the Channel.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire disputed that figure saying he is told the number is 3,000.
Most shocking of all – considering he held the same post in the previous government, and has appeared at the Select Committee on the same subject before – was when Brokenshire admitted he has not seen the situation for himself.
Vaz concluded the session by telling the minister he hoped he would be able to get to Calais sometime soon.
roundup: CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS. Three migrants were injured at Eurotunnel’s French freight terminal overnight. Two of the three men, all of Pakistani origin and aged between 25 and 30 according to La Voix du Nord, were found unconscious with electrical burns at around 03:00. The service was suspended but resumed after ninety minutes with relatively minor delays since (see more about enhanced security at the Channel Tunnel operator’s French terminal). Truck driver Sam also reported migrants throwing bollards onto the road into Calais port this morning in an apparent attempt to slow drivers down. Meanwhile, the on-going security enhancements at Calais port and Eurotunnel’s French terminal will be complete by the end of the month Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons this lunchtime. She also said there will be a new secure truck park at Calais with space for 230 vehicles, the equivalent of a 2.5 mile queue on the open road, ready in the autumn; that only 7% of illegal immigrant fines were issued to British drivers last year, and that the UK will host an international event on best practice in truck security to boost compliance with foreign hauliers who, she said, comprise the ‘vast majority’ of freight traffic moving through Calais. Finally, Lloyd’s Loading List quotes an unnamed industry source saying that the Operation Stack M20 freight queue is likely to return this week as the lack of capacity at Dover – thanks to the strikers occupying ships at Calais – combines with a rush of holidaymakers and freight held back by the French Bastille Day national holiday. The source says strikers may exploit the situation to give fresh impetus to their demands. However, the latest news form Calais is that the union is preparing to make a ‘concession’ tomorrow after a meeting with the French transport minister on Monday.