Joe Carlebach is a councillor in Hammersmith and Fulham.
Like many I have watched the crisis in Kent unfolding before our eyes. Many of us will have friends, family and constituents trapped in this disaster.
Huge queues of ordinary people building up on the motorways attempting to cross the channel to start their much needed summer holidays.
Delays of up to 15 hours have been widely reported with vehicles stationary on the roads in the baking heat. I have even seen aid workers, used to working with the homeless and destitute, distributing water to distressed motorists and their families who have apparently been ‘abandoned’ by the authorities.
There is also the considerable disruption caused to the good people of Kent trying to go about their daily business, shopping, hospital visits, seeing friends etc. Yet again their lives have been turned upside down and made miserable.
Like many I am are utterly bemused at how this situation could have got so out of hand so quickly. The root cause of all the disruption and inconvenience? We are told it is down to ‘security’ reasons.
The line seems to be that since the truly atrocious attack in Nice, when so many innocents perished, the French Government has decided to check every passport of those entering the country, at least from the UK.
The problem appears to be that they simply did not have enough resources to check all the documentation in a timely fashion.
This is the line being ‘spun’ across the media as the root cause of the problem.
Like the great queuing nation we are, plans are now being rolled out to install mobile toilets up and down the Kent motorways and make other preparations, enabling people to have just enough to survive. We really do know how to queue well!
I think, frankly, this is all utter nonsense.
It has been known for a long time that this weekend was always going to be hugely busy, as it is the first weekend of the state schools summer holidays. A simple check of ferry bookings would have revealed this.
Neither our Government or the Government of France seem to have been aware of this fact. This is despite apparent warnings from the Port of Dover authorities that they had real concerns about French border staff levels.
Now let me turn to the issue of security. I am not arguing for a second that there is not a real need for stringent security. Extra checks may well be needed – but they should also be resourced properly.
I would also ask why there are no similar queues on the French border with Belgium, a well known source of terrorism. Neither are there any reports of similar delays on the German, Spanish or Italian borders with France.
It would appear that based on this evidence that the so called ‘security’ reason for this crisis is a ruse and not a valid reason.
In the total absence of an official opposition, who are too busy bashing seven bells out of each other to be even slightly interested in ordinary people and the ‘Kent crisis’, we as Conservatives must step into the breach.
It needs to be said clearly that this situation is totally unacceptable.
There appears to be no sense of urgency in securing a speedy resolution to the misery many thousands of ordinary hard-working people are having to live through.
Where are the Transport Secretary, the Home Secretary, and the Foreign Secretary? Why are we left with the overriding impression that those who have the power to resolve this catastrophe do not seem interested or are invisible?
The people effected by this chaos will be taxpayers and voters. They deserve better from our Government and our party.
My challenge is simply this: will some one please get hold of this crisis and start to fix it right now?
Let’s have Ministers across the media looking like they really care and apologise to all those who have had to put up with this unacceptable situation. Let’s get the estimated ten-hour delays being forecast for (at least) the next two days eradicated!
Let us get our long suffering citizens on their way quickly to their much needed holidays, as well as restoring normality back to the people of Kent.