BORDER FORCE UNDER STAFFING AT AIRPORTS NEEDS ACTION NOW
SNP Transport Spokesperson, Drew Hendry MP has again raised the issue of budget cuts to the UK Border Force – and increasing concern about how Brexit is going to impact on already serious delay problems for travellers arriving at UK airports.
Drew Hendry has said that the travel industry has once again been left ‘holding the bag‘ on the failure of their disastrous Tory Hard Brexit plans.
Mr Hendry – who raised the issue today in the chamber at Transport Questions – has said that the UK Border Force will need a 200% increase in staffing to deal with post Brexit EU passengers according to figures obtained from the Tourism Industry Council. The service is already buckling as a result of swinging 15% cut to its budget since 2011, despite an 11% increase in travellers over the same period.
At the end of 2016, over 5,000 passengers entering Stansted had to queue for almost an hour, despite the Border Force agreed service standard of 25 minutes. Earlier in 2016, passengers in Inverness were left stranded for over 2 hours when the service forgot to dispatch border agents from Aberdeen.
Drew Hendry MP commented: “Once again a UK Transport Minister has failed to deal with or understand these growing problems for travellers and businesses and – once again the Tories are leaving the transport industry holding the bag on the fall out of their disastrous EU gamble.
“The Border Force is already poorly staffed and is unable to meet current demand, yet the Tories have no answer as to how they intend to prevent further border chaos in light of the massive increase in checks that the end to free movement in the EU will bring.
“According to the Airport Operators Association, the aviation industry is worth a staggering £51.9 billion to the UK Economy, yet every single one of their questions, including key issues around managing borders remain unanswered.
“While the government is dithering, the sector cannot plan investments or develop strategies for the future. The Tories might shout into the wind that that ‘Britain is open for business’ but the looming threat of border chaos with no visible plan is more like locking the door on the customers. Action is needed now, the UK government must say what the plan is to protect business and tourism before Brexit breaks it.
“Anything short of the UK remaining in the common travel area will have a devastating impact on the travel sector – leaving travellers paying the price of Brexit through long queues and higher costs and our excellent tourism industry paying the price of visitors inconvenience. We need answers now.”