Calais COBR meeting 31 July 2015: statement
Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee on the response to disruption in Dover and Coquelles.
A Number 10 spokesperson said:
First thing this morning the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee COBR to address the response to the unacceptable disruption in Dover and Coquelles.
The meeting, which lasted just over an hour, was attended by Cabinet Secretaries including the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid and Greg Clark; Ministers including Lord Ahmad, Penny Mordant, Nick Boles and Grant Shapps and senior representatives from the military and police.
The Prime Minister set out his concern about the impact that repeated illegal migrant incursions into the Eurotunnel is having on both sides of the Channel. He will speak again to President Hollande later.
The meeting focused on what more could be done to deal with the immediate security issues on the French side, in close collaboration with the French authorities. And new measures to help reduce disruption to hauliers, businesses and the people of Kent.
First, the new fencing to secure the platform in Coquelles will be completed by next weekend, but government will further boost security by funding additional fencing to shore up as much of the perimeter as necessary. More Border Force search and dog teams will also be sent in.
Second, to alleviate the pressure in Kent urgent options are being pursued to create alternative parking zones. Ministry of Defence planners and the Department for Transport are working closely with local agencies to rapidly agree a way forward, including the option of temporarily parking freight overspill at Ebbsfleet. Increasing ferry capacity on different routes is also being explored.
Third, the government will continue to collaborate closely with the French government to reduce the numbers of migrants in Calais and the incentives for them to stay there. That includes stronger cooperation on returns, with UK funding and joint flights to countries like Sudan. Domestically, new powers to tackle illegal working and abuse of the asylum system will be sped up – the new Immigration Bill will be introduced as soon as Parliament returns.
The Prime Minister reiterated that everything that can be done will be done to ensure the security of our borders and alleviate the disruption on both sides of the Channel.
Update: read the statement from the Prime Minister’s call with President Hollande later in the day.