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Nigel Jenney Exposes Flawed UK Border Strategy as New EU Import Checks Begin

With the implementation of physical checks on food and agricultural imports from the EU starting this morning (30 April), criticism has been mounting against the UK government for what is being called "the world’s most inefficient and costly border". Nigel Jenney, the Chief Executive of the Fresh Produce Consortium, has been vocal in highlighting the shortcomings of the new system.

“The Government has single-handedly created the world’s most inefficient and expensive border,” stated Jenney. “This once in a lifetime opportunity has been squandered and we now await Government enforced consequences for both businesses and consumers.”

Jenney has been particularly critical of the government’s disregard for expert advice aimed at streamlining border processes.

“The UK government has ignored our extensive advice on how to streamline border processes," Jenney continued. "Instead, they’ve created a strategy that is both incompetent and hugely expensive. This will drive up costs for our sector, which will ultimately be passed on to consumers already struggling with the rising cost of living."

Key points highlighted by Jenney include obscene charges like the “common user charges" of up to £14,500 per 100 consignments, equating to around £1,450 for each vehicle carrying a mixed load.

“This will add millions of pounds in annual costs to the supply chain, placing tremendous financial pressure on small companies and major importers alike,” he asserted.

The new border system has also introduced operational inefficiencies. Jenney pointed out that, just weeks ago, the industry was informed that official inspection staff would not be available at Control Points beyond 7pm, a critical oversight given that “95% of all the goods in our sector arrive beyond the hours that UK government officials wish to work. So, in reality, it's about what's convenient to them, not what's effective for the industry or cost-effective for hard-pressed consumers.”

The government’s approach has also been marked by last-minute chaos and a lack of clear communication, with key details like common user charges only recently announced, revealing a staggering 500% increase from the expected fees.

“The government's lack of clarity and constant changes have created confusion and undermined industry confidence,” added Jenney.

Furthermore, Jenney criticised the government for its lack of consultation and disregard for alternative solutions proposed by the industry which are both efficient and bio-secure, potentially crippling small businesses and undermining the UK's food security.

“We've offered workable solutions for years, but the government has procrastinated and shown total incompetence,” Jenney elaborated. “To avoid this self-made crisis, we recently proposed a handful of inspectors at key points to support the EU trade; a solution perfectly suited to our just-in-time, perishable goods industry. Yet, this was rejected outright.”

As new charges and operational inefficiencies begin to take effect, Jenney stands out as a critical voice and a champion for a more efficient and equitable approach to managing the UK's borders, emphasizing the need for government accountability and effective industry consultation to protect the nation’s food and flower supply.


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