Manifesting support for UK ports

Thu, 16 October 2014

United Kingdom Major Ports Group (UKMPG) has unveiled a new Manifesto – Ports4Prosperity – in a bid to ensure UK ports get the government support they need.

Representing 41 of the country’s major ports, UKMPG is calling on the government to work with the ports sector to support UK industry.

“Ports are vital for the UK but do not always receive the attention they deserve,” said Richard Bird, executive director, UKMPG. “We do not look for subsidy but need government support in other ways so we can continue to provide the high quality and competitive service our customers and the country rightly demand.”

Presenting the Manifesto at the Party Conferences in Manchester and Birmingham this week, the Group asked that the government defend the national interest by blocking or exempting the UK from the European Commission’s proposed EU Port Services Regulation, which the Group says is a major threat to the nation’s ports.

A spokesperson from Associated British Ports (ABP), which supported the launch events and which owns and operates 21 UK ports, backed this claim and told Maritime Journal: "The Ports4Prosperity Manifesto is crucially important for ABP and the whole UK ports industry. In particular, the Government must block or ensure the UK is exempt from the proposed EU Port Services Regulation.”

"With the Italian Presidency rushing to reach a political agreement on 8 October, it is now a race against time to protect the national interest,” the spokesperson added.

The Manifesto also appeals for a joined-up approach across government, better road and rail links, support for training and continuous improvement of health and safety; as well as a better land and marine planning system, which will allow ports to invest when and where necessary.

According to UKMPG, UK ports handle 95% of the nation's trade in goods, supporting 400,000 jobs and contributing over £21 billion to the economy every year.

“We need national and local government to put ports at the heart of intelligent, long-term planning. But even more pressing today is the need for ministers to be robust in Europe and stop new regulations placing unnecessary burdens on out vibrant, competitive ports and jeopardising the working conditions of those employed within them,” concluded Gordon Marsden MP, Shadow Minister for Transport.

By Rachael Doyle

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