The Department for Transport (''DfT'') has today (26 May ) released its key findings and recommendations following its Trust Port Study.
The aim of the Trust Port Study was to consider the overall effectiveness of the trust port model and to make any recommendations needed about how its effectiveness could be improved. The key themes were the accountability and governance of trust ports and their ability to invest. The study focused on the 8 largest trust ports in England and Wales (Tyne, Dover, London, Milford Haven, Harwich Haven, Blyth, Shoreham and Poole).
Overall the study found that the trust port model is broadly effective. However, it was considered that the trust port model may not necessarily be the correct one to deliver strategic objectives of ports where they involve major transformative investments.
Recommendations from the Trust Port Study
Main areas considered and recommendations given as part of the Trust Port Study include:
1. Secretary of State appointments to trust port boards:
- The Secretary of State appointing the Chair and being involved in the selection of the Deputy Chair seems to strike a good balance between preserving accountability and Ministers relationship with the Boards of these trust ports while reducing administrative burdens (this would not apply at Dover).
- The Secretary of State should be able to dismiss an underperforming Chair appointed by him or her.
- DfT should consider the case for Secretary of State appointments when a trust port passes the Ports Act threshold.
2. Relationship of trust ports with the Department for Transport:
- There should be regular one to one meetings between the Chair of a nationally significant trust port and the Minister.
- A standard agenda should be created as a basis for the meetings between Chairs and the Minister.
- There should be annual round-table meeting between the Minister and Chairs of the nationally significant trust ports.
- DfT officials should continue to attend annual stakeholder events of all Major Trust Ports.
3. Stakeholder Engagement
- As part of best practice in stakeholder management, the nature and extent of stakeholder and community engagement should form part of a port's ongoing self-assurance process.
4. Investment capability
- Trust ports should periodically review their strategic vision and objectives and consider if the trust port model is the best way of achieving them. This should include a port's ability to attract the necessary funding for investment needed to deliver its vision and objectives. The review could include an assessment of the alternatives that would allow it to meet its vision and objectives if the conclusion that it was not possible to do so within the trust port model. Reviews should be carried out periodically, at least every 5 years and the conclusions discussed with DfT. Major Trust Pots that have not carried out a specific review of this nature may wish to consider doing so.
The DfT has stated that the nine recommendations listed above, arising from the Study will be taken forward over the course of 2016/2017. This will involve a number of the recommendations being included in revised good governance guidance to replace MTP2. The intention is that the revised guidance will also include good practice guidance for local authority ports and potentially other ports.
The full document: Trust Port Study: Key Findings and Recommendations can be accessed here.