Monday, June 21, 2010

Freight Ferry Companies Rage At Dover Harbour Board

Extra Charges to Fund Terminal were 'Duplicitous'
Shipping News Feature

UK – The plans to privatise the Dover Harbour Board which we detailed in February have run into more criticism after it was revealed that monies raised from ferry companies using the port, ostensibly to fund a new terminal, are allegedly destined to bolster the trust’s pension fund as a sweetener before the assets are transferred.

The three main RoRo ferry operators which use Dover have now said they may resort to Court action after it was revealed that around £60 million allegedly raised in agreed extra charges levied on them to redevelop facilities were destined elsewhere, and that the much vaunted consultation, intended to ensure cooperation of all parties as to plans for Dover’s privatisation, were described as ‘a meaningless waste of time’ by ferry company representatives.

Dover has held community trust status for four centuries, which comes with restrictions on how finances are managed and revenue raised, the change of status to a private company is seen by the three ferry operators who use the port, Norfolk Line, P & O and SeaFrance, as an attempt to create a lucrative monopoly. Their response, besides the legal threats and an appeal to Ministers in advance of tomorrows Budget, is to talk of the possibility to transfer services to other ports.

Local MP Charlie Elphicke has appealed to all parties to discuss the situation which, if not settled amicably could lead to less services from Dover with the consequent loss of jobs in the area.