Wisbech Port to remain open

PUBLISHED: 15:15 22 September 2006 | UPDATED: 19:48 01 June 2010

WISBECH Port is set to remain open despite the fact it is currently running at a loss, a comprehensive review has revealed. A report into the marine services was ordered back in 2005 and a review team was set up, due to concerns about the financial perfor

WISBECH Port is set to remain open despite the fact it is currently running at a loss, a comprehensive review has revealed.

A report into the marine services was ordered back in 2005 and a review team was set up, due to concerns about the financial performance of the port and its services.

Figures published in the report show that the port's deficit for 2004/05 was £453,200. The operating deficit of this, was £242,977.

Now following months of research the report has been completed and it concludes that Fenland District Council, which acts as the Harbour Authority will keep the port open but seek help from neighbours at South Holland District Council and ask if they are willing to join a partnership.

If this fails then the authority may look to put up charges for ships using the port of Wisbech.

The marine services report said: "If the invite of pro-active working remains negative after it is formally communicated to South Holland District Council, the options of putting up charges should be presented to port operators."

The harbour authority will also look into working towards developing a full trust status for the authority, which would release Fenland Council of its duty and liability as the statutory harbour authority.

The review also looked in to whether closure of the port was an option.

However it concluded: "That the port in Wisbech remains in council ownership and a commitment is confirmed to allow it to develop as a port.

"Without such commitment no security of tenure for the port operator is possible resulting in an inability on his part to commit and invest."

The port development board will now also compile a business plan for the port.

The future of the yacht harbour may also change, as the council will look to see if there is any interest outside for new management to take over its running.

The review also recommends that steps will be taken to attract further business to the port and to raise its profile.

The team will also look at trying to achieve grants to pay for improvements at the port.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a joint long term tourism plan is developed for the port of Wisbech, which includes a 20-year vision.

Income for the accounts comes from ships, which visit the waters.

The main challenges facing Fenland District Council and the Port of Wisbech are financial, maintaining and improving port facilities and attracting new businesses and raising the profile of the port.

Wisbech served as a port in medieval times, but when the estuary of the River Ouse became silted up it was diverted into the sea of King's Lynn.

Throughout its history Wisbech has been a centre for local traders in agricultural produce.

As part of the review there have been talks as to whether Wisbech port could be taken over by the private sector or by another harbour authority, but nothing has come to pass.

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