Harbour board must cut costs says councillor

Langstone Harbour
Langstone Harbour
The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Rev Christopher Foster

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THE leader of Portsmouth City Council says a harbour board must trim its costs in line with other authorities.

Langstone Harbour Board manages the water between Hayling Island and Portsea Island.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson sits on the board and was instrumental in negotiating a reduction in the board’s precept – paid by Portsmouth and Havant taxpayers.

The precept was slashed from the £127,000 that the harbour board originally wanted to £70,900.

Now Cllr Vernon-Jackson says an upcoming review must look at cutting staff and costs.

He said: ‘I look at places with similar ecology and number of moorings, also with commercial stuff going through, where there is no charge to the taxpayer. I’m questioning whether taxpayers get good value for money.’

He compared the harbour with Crouch Harbour Authority which has a wage bill of around £65,000 compared to £300,000 at Langstone and said the board must be more efficient.

He also questioned why the board had asked expensive City firms such as PwC to tender to carry out the review when the council can do it cheaper.

Harbourmaster Nigel Jardine, said: ‘We have put out tenders to a range of people, as the local council has to do, there is nothing secret about it.

‘We have gone to a range of people who we think have sufficient expertise in port and harbour matters to be able to come to a sound conclusion.

‘That will go before the joint working party and if they are not happy I will look again.’

In respect to potential staff cuts he said: ‘The purpose of the review is to decide what to do. It seems perverse to me that a decision has already been made. They seem to be putting the cart before the horse.’

Mr Jardine said comparing Langtone to Crouch Harbour Board was like ‘comparing apples with pears’.