Portsmouth feels sting of Brexit funding

Portsmouth International Port Portsmouth International Port believes it should have received more Brexit funding. Credit: Portsmouth International Port

The UK government's assessment of ports to decide how much Brexit funding local authorities should receive was disjointed, failed to recognise Portsmouth as a high impact port for Brexit and created a financial shortfall, the director of Portsmouth International Port (PIP) has said.

Speaking to Port Strategy about the government's decision to distribute £3.14m amongst 19 UK local authorities with a major port to help them prepare for Brexit, Mike Sellers stated that the method by which Portsmouth City Council-owned PIP was assessed for funding failed to effectively consider the potential impact of Brexit on its operations. Portsmouth was allocated £136,362, while neighbouring ABP Southampton, which includes four cruise terminals and a DP World Southampton-operated container terminal, was given £272,724.

“The funding allocation was not joined up at all. Portsmouth is a just in time ferry port that deals with Europe, that could be impacted severely by a no deal Brexit and it got half the amount that Southampton did,” he said.

He added out that 90% of everything ABP Southampton handles is non-EU, but it was offered double the amount that PIP was because it has a container terminal.

Insufficient funding

“It’s not nearly enough that is needed for contingency planning, for the Local Resilience Forum to put in place traffic measures, checkpoints and everything that is going to be needed in the event of a no deal,” he added.

Mr Sellers stated that the Department for Transport  did a modelling for the port, as they did for all ro-ro ports, however, the modelling was not as thorough as it could have been. For example, it did not include the main routes into the city — the M275, “which is 13 lorry lengths away from the port’s freight gate,” he emphasised

Local council help

The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum asked for £4m for contingency planning, he explained, but the government’s Communities and Local Government Committee  have so far offered approximately £300,000, which Mr Sellers said is "way short of what’s needed”. The council are now providing funding, following the execution of emergency powers.

He said that the port is confident it will be ready for Brexit, even in a ‘no deal’ scenario because it has arranged contingency funding, but the “disappointing point is that there isn’t the funding made available by central government that should be made available for contingency.”

Earlier this month, PIP announced that Portsmouth-based shipping and cargo handling company MMD Shipping Services has been rebranded as Portico with a £15m worth of investment secured over the next decade.

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