Tuesday, 23 September 2008

No port privatisation!

I attended Dover's Port Consultative Committee the other day. There I said that the Port of Dover is a national asset and should remain so. The need for National Security and Border Security are overwhelming that the Port should remain an asset of the nation.

So I totally oppose the privatisation of the Port for these reasons. I am deeply unhappy about the recent changes at the Port which amount to privatisation. I am deeply concerned that the Ministry of Transport were not only consulted about the changes, but appear to have approved them.

The Ports Minister, who turned up the other day, and the current Member of Parliament should clarify exactly what the Ministry's role in this was a matter of urgency. They also need to level with the community whether they will permit further privatisation or "outsourcing" of Port jobs.

I am worried about Government's future plans for the Port. The Western Docks development will require a lot of money. Possibly more money than the Port has available on its own. It may require a joint venture partner. If that happens, it is essential that the Dover Harbour Board retain management control of the joint venture. It would not be right for the Port to be under the control of European or Middle Eastern interests - again on grounds of National and Border Security.

These are my thoughts and I would be genuinely interested to hear what people think about the way ahead. The Port is Dover's largest employer by far and critical to our economy. It's therefore vital that we all work together to get the best result.

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