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Port of Dover privatisation plan rejected by government

Port of Dover

Dover Harbour Board had submitted privatisation plans

by Beth Robson

Workers at the Port of Dover received an early Christmas present today with the news the port will not be privatised.

The government made the announcement that was met with delight by Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke, who has carried out his election pledge to save the port.

He said: "The Port of Dover is the gateway to our nation and should be forever England."

P&O Ferries, which sails from the port, have welcomed the announcement but Bob Goldfield, chief executive of the Port of Dover, has said the decision is "frustrating" both for the port and for the community.

Port of Dover

Mr Goldfield said: "Developing the port, providing an important contribution to the regeneration of Dover, growing and adding value to the business, were key objectives for the DHB scheme and will continue to be our focus as we remain as a trust port.

"It is, however, a great pity and a disappointment to the members of the Dover Harbour Board that the people of Dover will not now benefit from the injection of many millions of pounds into local community projects, via our proposed Port of Dover Community Trust."

P&O had serious concerns  the scheme undermined the interests of ferry operators who represent 80% of the port's income.

The ferry company feared higher tariffs could be imposed by a private owner.
P&O chief executive Helen Deeble said: "The fundamental justification for Dover Harbour Board's scheme has always been the need to raise capital for redevelopment of the Western Docks.

"We have always questioned this argument and note that the secretary of state has concluded there are other ways to raise capital without having to privatise."

The secretary of state took the strength of public feeling into account when making his decision.

Mr Elphicke, who has fought the idea of privatisation for three years, added: "The very idea that the port should be sold off was desperate and out of touch.

"Think of the port and the White Cliffs and you think of freedom and victory over tyranny.

"This magnificent victory is the best Christmas present the people of Dover could have."

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