Labour conference sees free port opposition

Labour Party conference The Labour Party Conference saw different port-related events Image: BPA
Industry Database

There was strong opposition to free ports during the Labour Party Conference near the end of September, with the concept being described as “job-destroying”.

That’s according to British Ports Association (BPA) policy manager Mark Simmonds, who said that the opposition occurred at the launch of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers’ new maritime manifesto at the conference, which was held in Liverpool in the UK.

During the event, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Andy McDonald discussed his priorities, one of which was a Labour port strategy (were he to be part of a future UK Government).

There were other port-related events at the Labour Party Conference — an annual national conference for the major UK political party.

A Maritime UK lunch event, featuring Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade Barry Gardiner as well as other shadow ministers and Labour Members of Parliament (MPs), included discussion surrounding the profile of the ports sector and port connectivity.

Additionally, ABP Humber was represented in a Transport for the North fringe panel with Shadow Transport Minister Rachael Maskell, where it made the case for improved surface connectivity and noted spending pressures on local government affecting last-mile investment. The effect of this on operators paying towards connectivity infrastructure was also touched upon.

The Port of Dover was joined by British Chambers of Commerce director-general Adam Marshall, as well as Mr Gardiner, for a separate fringe event on the importance of trade and keeping freight moving after Brexit.

The Port of London also held a drop-in event on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project, while the BPA hosted a drop-in event for MPs and peers to talk to the organisation about port-related issues. It will be following up upon Parliament returning to Westminster, Mr Simmonds said.

Mr Simmonds also noted that there were other fringe sessions on transport and environment at the conference with direct points of interest for the ports industry.

“On the fringes and behind the protests and set-piece events, there were plenty of other discussions of interest to ports,” he commented on the Labour Party event.

The BPA says it is attending party conferences this year.

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