Christmas 'chaos' at Felixstowe Port due to Brexit and Covid stockpiling

14 November 2020, 17:40 | Updated: 14 November 2020, 17:44

The owners of Felixstowe Port have warned of "chaos" in the run up to Christmas
The owners of Felixstowe Port have warned of "chaos" in the run up to Christmas. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Stockpiling of PPE and post-Brexit goods has caused "chaos" at a UK port which could cause major issues in the run-up to Christmas.

The owner of Felixstowe Port in Suffolk and the suppliers which rely on it have warned of Christmas shortages.

Hutchinson Ports warned of angry suppliers and shipping companies which are having to be redirected to ports in other countries due to delays.

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In a message posted on its website, the company said delays would continue "at least into December and possibly through into the New Year" which could spell chaos for firms still waiting on pre-Christmas stock.

Freight manager Matt Hudson told reporters that "if the chaos continues, increased shipping prices will be passed on to consumers" while more cargo ships full of good will be unable to unload.

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The port processes around 40% of all goods coming into the UK from abroad.

Hutchinson Ports confirmed that last week one ship was turned away and sent to Rotterdam because of "unacceptable" delays in the process.

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Over 11,000 containers of PPE bought by the Government for its Covid-19 response is clogging up the port - some which have been sat unmoved since August.

Estimates suggest it has taken up almost one third of the port's capacity, leaving it struggling to take any major shipments.

Felixstowe Port handles around 40% of all UK goods from abroad
Felixstowe Port handles around 40% of all UK goods from abroad. Picture: PA Images

A spokesperson for Felixstowe Port said it was "working with the contractors to the Department of Health to remove these containers to off-port depots as quickly as possible.”

The port did say however, that it was "proud to support the government and to play a small part in helping ensure the NHS does not run out of vital PPE" during the Covid-19 outbreak.

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A Hutchinson Ports spokesperson also warned that "imbalances" in stock caused by pre-Brexit stockpiling has also been a major issue.

It blamed "a large amount of unusually long-stay containers" which have been taking up vital space at the port for weeks, if not months.