Port chaos costs firm £100k in five weeks

DR Collin vans supporting the YES campaign
DR Collin vans supporting the YES campaign

The tense situation on roads at Dover and Calais has had a disastrous effect on business in a port 400 miles to the north.

But the delays affecting their lorries on the journey to France has so far cost the company £100,000 in a little over five weeks.

James Cook, managing director said that the business was being hurt by the situation at Calais, where attempts by migrants to gain access to the UK on board lorries have created huge delays.

“We are a speciality company,” he said.

“We deal in high-value live products - live langoustine and live lobster - so this has an even shorter shelf-life than fresh perishable goods, so it is of even more significance to us.

“At the moment, I have to say, after five weeks of this, we are in a very, very difficult trading situation. This is our fifth week with these losses and it can’t continue.”

The company is one of several that have called on the UK and Scottish governments to do more to resolve the situation.

They say the delays have led to produce being rejected in Europe, or having to be sold at a discounted price.

It is being described as the worst crisis in the company’s 63-year history.

SNP MP Calum Kerr and MSP Paul Wheelhouse met with Jim Cook this week, ahead of Scottish government meetings on the situation.

Calum Kerr, SNP MP responded to the situation this week, saying: “I have every sympathy with D R Collin. They are a fantastic Borders business and a hugely successful exporter, but they are now caught in a highly damaging situation which is not of their making.

“The crisis at Calais is also a human tragedy. The UK, France and other EU governments need to work together as a priority to find a sustainable long term solution.

“We need a clear and effective strategy to deal with this - and quickly. If not, then the deaths and disruption are going to continue.”

Mr Wheelhouse added: “Having met with James Cook on Wednesday, I was alarmed at the impact the combination of the industrial action on the part of French maritime union staff on the DFDS ferry services, in combination with the utter chaos unfolding at the Eurotunnel site in Calais, is having on one of Scotland’s finest seafood exporters and one of Berwickshire’s key employers. The UK and French governments have to get a grip of this problem and do it now.

“This must be dealt with as a matter of far greater urgency by UK Ministers. The impact at a time of peak demand for langoustines is bad enough, but with the lobster season overdue, when that kicks in imminently, the economic impact will only be compounded. At the very least, the UK Government should ensure that all HGVs with perishable goods are identified and in every case ensured safe passage to the ferry ports and prioritised for onward movement.”

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government welcomed plans for a “quick to market” route for vehicles caught in delays at the Channel Tunnel.