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Making the most of trust ports

The Department for Transport has today published a report on
potential reform in the trust port sector in England and Wales. The report was prepared for the Department by independent consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

The report was commissioned to help the Department understand how the potential of trust ports can be fully exploited and to recommend ways in which they can improve their accountability and financial
performance.

In a Parliamentary Written Statement, Shipping Minister Stephen Ladyman highlighted the report's key findings. They include the following:

* the trust model retains a legitimate role within a mixed ports sector;

* larger trust ports operate on a sound commercial basis but their
financial performance sometimes falls short of the private sector;

* trust ports should do more to identify and account for use of their profits – what the report terms their 'stakeholder dividend';

Dr Ladyman said: “The study represents a valuable contribution to the debate on the
trust port sector. The Government will bring forward new guidance for trust ports in England and Wales later this year, following further discussion with the industry based on these recommendations.”

1. The Pricewaterhouse Coopers Report can be found at
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/shippingports/ports/trust/.

2. Trust ports are independent statutory bodies, governed by unique legislation and controlled by an independent board rather than shareholders.

3. More than fifty ports in England and Wales are trust ports – including Dover, Milford Haven, and the Port of London Authority (which holds conservancy duties for the Thames Estuary).

4. In 2001, seven of the largest commercial trust ports were
classified by the ONS as Public Corporations for Government
accounting purposes, owing to various controls which Government
retains over them – namely a board-majority appointed by central or local government, and the power of Government compulsorily to privatise the port under the Ports Act 1991. The ports in question applied in 2004 for Harbour Revision Orders (HROs) to remove these controls. All but London were unsuccessful, after objections to the HROs were received. The Department decided to use the opportunity presented by the Ports Policy Review to consider more widely the status of the trust port sector and the Government's relationship
with the largest trust ports.

5. The Department aims to complete the Ports Policy Review and publish its findings later this year.

Press Enquires: 020 7944 3118
E-mail: press@dft.gov.uk
Out of Hours: 020 7944 4292
Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

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