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Dover port's privatisation plans revealed

Dover docks
Dover docks

by Graham Tutthill

Plans to privatise the Port of Dover have been revealed.

Dover Harbour Board has announced that it has now made a formal application to the Transport Secretary for authority to restructure the organisation in order to introduce private capital.

The restructuring means that the port will move fully into the private sector and will no longer be a trust port.

It follows months of speculation that the port would be moving in this direction.

In August the Department for Transport asked each trust port to consider what structure would be most appropriate for their continuing development and success.

Dover was said to be the trust port most advanced in its analysis and planning, and now the board has confirmed that it has developed an ownership and governance option, whereby private capital could be introduced to the port.

At the same time it will set up a locally-based charitable trust to channel funds to local community projects over a longer term basis, something that is not possible with the current status as a trust port.

Dover MP Gwyn Prosser said he was not surprised at the announcement, but privatisation was not guaranteed.

“What they haven't revealed is that the government has published new stricter criteria which is to be applied to all trust ports seeking privatisation,” he said.

“The new guidance has raised the threshold considerably, a great number of additional benchmarks have to met and it's clear that any application from any of the trust ports, including that of Dover, is going to take a very long time to come to fruition - if at all."

Full story in this week's Dover Mercury.

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