Big decisions ahead for Langstone Harbour as report is outlined

REPORT Langstone Harbour Board has been told to become more efficient
REPORT Langstone Harbour Board has been told to become more efficient
Fareham Borough Council leader, cllr Sean Woodward with parliamentary under-secretary of state from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Dr Th�r�se Coffey MP

Group set up to speed up pollution solutions

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A HARBOUR authority must work towards self-sufficiency and becoming more business-like, a report has recommended.

A review of the Langstone Harbour Board – which manages the water between Hayling Island and Portsea Island – outlines a series of ways the authority should cut costs.

The report, compiled by Fisher Associates, says £55,000-a-year could be obtained by increasing the number of leisure-users.

A total of £85,000 could be saved by removing jobs – including treasurer, clerk and engineer – and providing these services from officers at Portsmouth City Council.

The report was presented to councillors – from both Havant Borough Council and the city council – at a meeting of the board at The Plaza in Havant yesterday.

The report comes after Portsmouth’s leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who sits on the board, negotiated a reduction in the board’s precept from £127,000 to £70,900 earlier this year.

The precept – which covers the authority’s deficit – is paid by Portsmouth and Havant taxpayers, each council paying half.

But Portsmouth’s leaders want the precept to be zero as soon as possible.

The Fisher report says: ‘Langstone Harbour Board should be modernised into a systems-based and customer-orientated harbour authority, that optimises its commercial opportunities to live within its means, whilst delivering good environmental stewardship.’

There was concern wildlife would be threatened by cost-cutting, but the report recommends a grant of £25,000 is paid by Portsmouth and Havant to allow the harbour to continue to have an environment officer.

The board agreed the current precept arrangements should be kept in place while the board worked through potential reforms.

Leaders in Havant and Portsmouth will now go away and decide how they want to act upon the recommendations and must eventually agree ‘a memorandum of understanding’ on the way forward.

Board chairwoman Cllr Jackie Branson, who represents Havant, told The News: ‘We have always wanted to reduce the precept.

‘It’s got to be done in a constructive way.

‘A lot of the recommendations will not be easy to implement. It could be costly. We need expert help.’