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Brussels petition for truckers

Friday, 24th July 2009

A petition protesting against French blockades of the Channel ports was handed in to the European Commission in Brussels on Wednesday, by the Federation of Small Business, backed by Conservative MEP Roger Helmer.

French trade unions frequently seek to stop cross-channel traffic, which imposes huge costs on hauliers. The four day stoppage caused by French fishermen in April is estimated to have cost the average British haulier around 800. The blockages force the Kent police to arrange for lines of lorries to park up on the M20 to Dover -- an operation known as "The Stack", which turns large parts of the motorway into a car-park, resulting in congestion across the local road network.

The petition, which also calls for 6 million compensation from the French government, demands that the Commission put pressure on the French government to ensure that traffic moves freely, in line with the fundamental principle of free movement of goods and people in the EU. East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer, who accompanied the FSB delegation along with Conservative Kent County Councillors Julie Rook and Alan Marsh, commented "It is scandalous that the French government is ignoring its obligations in this way, and British hauliers are paying the prices -- not just in the South East, but up and down the country".

There are further problems on the French side, where delayed British truckers are seeing illegal immigrants desperately trying to board their lorries, and some truckers have been attacked and robbed by groups of would-be immigrants, and are in fear of their lives.

Neville Baxter, Chief Executive of RH Transport in Nottingham, said "We know all too well the serious congestion problems and delays caused by French inaction. I am delighted to see that our regional MEP is taking action on this issue". Bernard Howard of P.C. Howard, a trucking company with depots in Corby and Kings Cliffe, East Northants, said "It's time we told the French where to get off. We've put up with this behaviour for long enough".