Port willing to spend more in community
Dover is an active force in developing young people through its sponsorship of Young Enterprise
DOVER Harbour Board has revealed it would be willing to change its ancient constitution to ensure a direct flow of money towards regenerating the town – including through its partnership with Young Enterprise.
Last week the Dover Society, made up of 450 local resident members, called on Ports Minister Stephen Hammond to throw out historic rules which restrict money being spent outside the Port boundary.
DHB achieved operating profits in 2012 of £7.75 million, yet accounts show that only around £300,000 – less than four per cent – was spent outside the Port, while two thirds was used to purchase land on the White Cliffs on behalf of the National Trust.
Following recent meetings with Mr Hammond, Dover Society chairman Derek Leach wrote to the Department for Transport suggesting that “if DHB is to make any real contribution to Dover’s regeneration, it needs the ability to make a financial input”.
The letter also states that “the local community should have a veto on any future disposal of the Port” and that future appointments to DHB should, if possible, have local connections.
Any amendment to the constitution would have to be ratified in parliament, and some warned that method could take years.
DHB welcomed the proposals, but defended its record so far.
A spokesman said: “The Port welcomes the society’s desire to offer further thoughts on how the Port can increase its community dividend.
“As a major contributor to the success of the Olympic Torch event, a proud supporter of many local clubs and an active force in developing young people through our sponsorship of Young Enterprise and work with the Prince’s Trust, DHB contributes to the social fabric of its community.
“More than half a billion pounds of economic benefit is derived from the Port’s location and activities.”
However, many believe DHB could do more, including People’s Port chairman and shipping logistics expert Neil Wiggins.
He said: “DHB was formed in 1606 to serve the interests of King James I.
“Since then the port has gone through periods of working well with its town, and others of working badly. Our most recent history has been one where the Port has wanted to shove it to one side.
“It’s the only town in the country where the bypass runs straight through the centre, while its buildings sit in smog dying the death of a thousand cuts.”