The Dover People’s Port Trust is launched

The bid by the Dover People’s Port Trust to buy the Port of Dover was officially launched yesterday – but in reality we learnt little more about the scheme itself.

Around 150 people gathered at the Dover Sea Sports Centre for the event and among the guests was Dame Vera Lynn, the one-time forces’ sweetheart who through accident of history will always be associated with the town of Dover and its iconic coastline.

Also present were representatives of the ferry companies, Robin Wilkins for SeaFrance and Sue Mackenzie for P&O Ferries. Both expressed their belief that Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke’s vision of a people’s port, seen as a prime example of the big society in action, would be beneficial for their organisations and their relationship with the port authority.

There were a number of speeches given during the proceedings at the seafront, but some locals who turned out told me they were unhappy with the lack of substance, while one chap described the whole affair as simply a photo opportunity and expressed his disappointment that there was not a chance for questions to be put.

But then this was always likely to be a symbolic event more than anything else, and it is still impressive that Mr Elphicke has been able to move so swiftly to put a solid proposal for the future of the port in place. When I visited him at Westminster shortly after the election in May he told me he was working on a plan with regards to the port issue, but I would not have believed he would have been able to get as far as he has so soon.

It is obviously still early days, but it is clear there is real enthusiasm among people in the town for taking greater ownership of the port. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Mr Elphicke and the trust will be getting the message across so those supporting the bid so they can fully understand what success will mean for them and how the community can have a genuine say in making sure the port becomes a driving force for the regeneration of the town both now and in the future.

(There will be full coverage of the launch in next week’s Dover Express and my live coverage of the event via Twitter can be found here.)

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4 thoughts on “The Dover People’s Port Trust is launched

  1. 150 people, including those who were not impressed, is not an expression of large-scale public support. Charlie ough to go back in the queue where all the representations presented to the Secretary of State for Transport concerning DHB’s proposed Port sale are being considered. His wild launch won’t impress many!

  2. I saw Elphicke on the seafront some time before the launch. I have no idea what his proposal really consists of, but one thing seemed to me to be very obvious, as I watched him with media men and with his p.a.: the man is more concerned with the PR impact of his proposal than its substance or its fate. He wants to be seen to be doing something, but I’m pretty certain he isn’t really interested in his proposal succeeding (he knows it can’t, in any case). In fact I think he’d be scared to death if the proposal actually got anywhere.

  3. Strikes me that Alexander 31oct & JohnNov4 cannot wait to see our Docks fall into the hands of some obscure foreign owner or financial institution. They are the type who would sell their Grandmothers into slavery (or worse) in order to further their freemarket beliefs. Whatever you think his motivation might be he has made a start and if the Radio and Tv media get off their backsides followed by the Guardian,and tabloids who think themselves patriotic a scheme of Peoples Ownership could well be successful. THERE IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE FOR DOVER.

  4. All peak rail fares from Deal in Kent will go up by 12.8% in January 2011 even though our services have been cut and journey times to London have actually increased. A year after the introduction of the highspeed service Deal a major Kent town has still not been included into the highspeed timetable even though Southeastern are operating empty highspeed trains through the station.

    Charlie Elphicke has been prioritising on a “peoples port” but his largest constituency (Deal) has been poorly represented. It is vital that the highspeed service is extended to Deal station to encourage economic growth, tourism and jobs.

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