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Port of Workington Governance Advice, UK

Port of Workington Governance Advice, UK

The Port of Workington had falling volumes over a number of years due to cessation of traditional cargo handling activities. Owned by Cumbria County Council (CCC), it experienced a spiral of decline, and part of the main dock failed structurally and had to be closed.

CCC attempted to sell the port, but received no offers. It considered closure, but this would incur significant expense, a legal battle (need to obtain permissions), and economic and political consequences. Nor could it be reconstituted as a Trust Port without a significant dowry.

CCC formed an alliance with the two relevant district local authorities, the local regeneration partnership, and the Northwest Regional Development Agency (RDA), and a Steering Group was created. Fisher Associates was appointed to the Steering Group by the RDA to provide relevant ports expertise, and act as the RDA representative.

The case was made for several million pounds of regeneration funding. We advised the RDA to support proposals only if accompanied by a prior commitment by full Council to reform governance of the port. We arranged for Department for Transport’s participation in consultation, and their advice supported this position.

The outcome was that a new Harbour Board was set up, based broadly upon the Whitstable model. An independent person chairs the Board (as of 2006). Having met this condition precedent, substantial funding was put into the harbour as part of a major regeneration project for the harbour area.

Business Needs, Communities, Developed Economies, England, Public Sector, Regions, Service Review, UK