New guidelines highlight need for UK port accountability
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has published the new Ports Good Governance Guidance which advises ports to be transparent, accountable and proactive in communicating information.
The guidance, which applies to statutory harbour authorities (SHAs), trust and local authority (LA) owned ports, states that trust ports are accountable to stakeholders and strategy and direction should be set by the interests of stakeholders, while local authority owned ports should be strategic and commercially and legally aware.
Sara Walsh, corporate services manager at the British Ports Association (BPA), said: “The Guidance is not a statutory document and does not make any unworkable legal requirements on ports. It is important that the document remains advisory and the aim is that this final version proves to be useful for all type and size of organisations that own or manage harbour and port facilities.
“With a focus on openness, accountability and fitness for purpose, this Guidance will ultimately help to ensure ports around the UK balance the interests of their various port users and stakeholders.”
Trust ports should use performance indicators, generate and reinvest surpluses and engage with and consult stakeholders on significant decisions, explains the guidance. Those with an annual turnover of at least GB£10m should conduct reviews to check that their operating model is delivering strategic vision and objectives.
Harbour management committees of LA-owned ports should be strategic and aware of the commercial and legal framework that ports operate within, the guidance suggests. LA-owned harbours should submit annual accounts to DfT in the same way other SHAs do and should consider preparing accounts on a commercial accounting basis for its ports to help stakeholders understand its performance.
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