The UK Government has announced Dover will receive £45million as a part of its £4.8billion ‘Levelling Up Fund’. The announcement comes months after the Kent port town faced major delays going to the continent.
In its description of the funding allocated, the UK Government revealed: “£45million for Dover to improve the flow of traffic from the UK to the EU, with more border control points and a new exit route to help the port operate more efficiently and reduce congestion on local roads.”
Different figures had previously blamed one another for the delays.
Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister suggested border control officials were responsible for delays after failing to provide sufficient numbers to staff passport booths.
During last summer’s Tory leadership race, Rishi Sunak also said: “The situation needs to be urgently addressed by the French.
“They need to stop blaming Brexit and start getting the staff required to match demand.
“It’s absolutely not acceptable to have families stranded in their vehicles like this.”
Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont and Transport Minister Clément Beaune both claimed Britain’s departure from the European Union created the problem.
Anti-Brexit politicians have slammed the Government for using levelling up money to alleviate pressures at Dover.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran told Byline Times: “This isn’t levelling up, it’s putting a sticking plaster on a mess which is of the Conservatives’ own making.
“Their decision to erect barriers to trade with our neighbours has done real damage to the UK economy – and now vast sums of taxpayer cash is being spent on trying to mitigate the damage.”
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw added that “it is deeply ironic” how tens of millions in public money that is supposed to be helping deprived communities “is being used to try to resolve the huge damage done in Dover by the Tories’ botched Brexit deal”.
Nick Tyrone, formerly director at the centrist CentreForum think tank, also joked: “A great example of the British taxpayer having to pay for the cost of leaving the European Union.”
However, officials from Kent appear fairly happy with the funds allocated to the port town.
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke welcomed the funding package.
She said: “Severe delays at the Port have a huge impact on residents and businesses in our community.
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“This important investment will help Keep Dover clear and port traffic running more smoothly. It will make a huge difference to us locally.”
Mr Bannister added: “This is a great day for the port and for Dover.”
Dover District Council leader Trevor Bartlett also claimed: “This is tremendous news for Dover and a recognition from the Government of the need to level up Dover as the UK’s gateway town.
“Today’s announcement sees the highest level of funding in the country, with the two projects delivering a combined investment of over £63million in the future of Dover town centre and the Port of Dover.”