Saturday, 3 September 2011

Dover People's Port

Dover People's Port, or Paper Port?
What is the Dover People's Port? It is a proposal, styled on paper, sometimes referred to as a trust (Dover People's Port Trust). The Dover People's Port was put to paper in 2010 with the intention of presenting it as an alternative to the privatisation plans of Dover Harbour Board (DHB).

Location of the Dover People's Port
The Dover People's Port is not situated anywhere, as it does not exist. The only Port in Dover is the Dover Harbour Board, and consists of two ports, the Eastern Docks and the Western Docks. The seafront between these two docks is also part of the Dover Harbour Board.

Support for Dover People's Port at the Parish Poll
A parish poll held in Dover town on 23 March 2011 saw a staggering 75% of Dover's people declining to take part in the poll, which asked people to choose between the Dover People's Port and the Dover Harbour Board privatisation proposals.

The majority of people in Dover do not accept either proposal, preferring Dover Port to remain a charter port, practically a state asset, with no form of privatisation, neither that proposed by DHB nor the privatisation proposals of the Dover People's Port Trust.

Dover's People and the Port
With 75% of Dover's town residents refusing to vote in the parish poll, the obvious question is: why were the people of Dover not asked in the poll if they want the Port of Dover to remain a State asset? If this question had been asked on the ballot paper, then perhaps the vast majority of people in Dover would have turned out to vote, which would have meant a resounding: No! to the privatisation proposals both of DHB and of the Dover People's Port Trust.

As the obvious question was not asked, the vast majority did not turn up to vote, which equates to a resounding thumbs down to both privatisation proposals concerning the Port of Dover, and as a result, the Dover People's Port project has remained a paper port, its value equal to the paper it is written on.

Article written by D. Alexander

This Is Kent reported on 17 February 2012 that "BOSSES at the People's Port Trust are stepping up their efforts to take control of the Port of Dover with a massive membership drive.
A total of 55,000 letters are to be sent out to companies and households asking them to join the group for a one-off fee of £10. The People's Port letters will be arriving in the post on March 1st ..."
Three weeks later, 22 March 2012, the Dover Express has reported that only "hundreds respond to People's Port appeal". The 55,000 requests for money were sent not only to Dover's town residents, but all over Dover District, yet even then, the support for this project numbers only hundreds of people.
Hopefully, this dismal response will bring to a final end all illusions on the part of the Dover People's Port Trust to be representative of Dover's community. The privatisation proposal of Dover's port is very unpopular in Dover and in the whole district, whether it is in the form of the Dover Harbour Board proposal, or that of the Dover People's Port Trust.
D. Alexander

Update 2:
On April 20th 2012, managers of Dover People's Port Trust announced that the number of people who have sent in a membership application together with the required £10 is over a thousand, specifying that only 1% of the population of Dover town and district have joined. 

This very low number of members of a widely publicised trust that claims to represent Dover's Community, indicates how shallow their support really is among the communities of Dover town and district. It would be expected the Department for Transport will take note of the public response to Dover People's Port Trust's assertion to be the voice of the local public.

D. Alexander

Update 3:
The Dover People's Port Trust Limited ("DPPT") was created as an industrial and provident society and registered on 23 August 2010 with number 31026R. It is also registered as a charity by HM Revenue & Customs with number XT28458.

Update 4:
On 20th December 2012 the Department for Transport issued a letter to the Chairman of Dover Harbour Board announcing the Dover Harbour Board privatisation bid has been rejected. 

Under the heading Alternative Options, at point 58, the following wording was put: 

One correspondent suggested the creation of a port service toll to fund developments at ports, and to provide funding for the local authorities in which ports were based as well as an income stream for central Government.  The levy would be £50 a vehicle.   

In fact, the proposed levy is £5 per car and £50 per heavy goods vehicle.

The third paragraph in the letter I received from the Department for Transport, written 20th December 2012, states: The (Decision) Minister concluded that the transfer scheme proposed would not ensure a sufficient level of enduring community participation in the port. 
He also concluded that so far as the Board made the application in order to be able to obtain the additional finance necessary to undertake the proposed redevelopment of the Western Docks, there were other options available to secure that development. 

Could one of the other options indicated by the Decision Minister be the one I proposed, and that was mentioned in point 58 of the Decision Minister's reply to Dover Harbour Board?  
D. Alexander Kent, of Kentish origin.
Read on: Dover Port privatisation, how unpopular is the idea of privatising Dover's port?

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