Kent

Port of Dover blockade protest 'could be illegal'

Migrants wait by side of road near Calais ferry port on 5 September 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption An increasing number of migrants have arrived in Calais in recent months

A blockade of the Port of Dover planned for Saturday in support of truckers' concerns over illegal immigrants could be illegal, Kent Police have said.

A group called Support the Calais to Dover Truckers says it is highlighting the difficulties faced by lorry drivers crossing from France to England.

The Freight Transport Association said drivers faced regular and sometimes serious confrontations with stowaways.

The Port of Dover said the priority was to keep the port open.

About 2,000 migrants have gathered in Calais in they hope they can make the crossing to Dover.

Hauliers can face fines of up to £2,000 for each illegal migrant found on their lorry.

A Port of Dover spokesman said: "Over the next few days we will be monitoring the situation to ensure that we can deal with any planned protests in the safest and most constructive way."

Kent Police said "wilful obstruction of a highway" was an offence.

A force spokesman said: "The primary role of Kent Police is to facilitate lawful peaceful protest whilst ensuring public safety."

He said the force was in contact with the protesters via social media.

Natalie Chapman, from the FTA, said: "We completely understand the frustration of drivers who feel they are being used as scapegoats in what is a desperate situation.

"Our understanding is that they're looking at using lorries to blockade the Port of Dover. It has potential to cause huge disruption.

"However, we just don't think that this is the right way to resolve this situation."

Ms Chapman said some lorry drivers were having to take out personal loans to pay the fines.

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