Investigators continue to probe Portsmouth City Council over link with shipping firm

INVESTIGATORS are continuing to probe the city council over help it provided to a shipping firm.

The MMD quayside in Portsmouth
The MMD quayside in Portsmouth

The EU Commission is examining Portsmouth City Council’s actions with MMD Shipping over fears the support it gave may be classed as illegal state aid.

Despite Brexit the commission has told The News it will continue its probe as long as the UK is a member state.

The commission is assessing ‘several financing measures’ by the council for the firm at Portsmouth International Port.

A competitor in the UK had complained the firm won an unfair advantage through the support.

The probe is looking into annual revenue grants to cover trading losses of MMD provided by PCC as of 2009, a long-term financing facility provided by the council, an acquisition of two cranes by the council and their subsequent long-term lease to MMD. The investigation will also look into security for a bank overdraft facility provided by the council.

A commission spokeswoman said: ‘The investigation is ongoing. We cannot prejudge its outcome nor the timing of a decision at this stage.

‘As long as the UK is an EU member state, all rights and obligations of EU membership apply. EU competition law, including state aid rules, continue to apply in full to the United Kingdom and in the United Kingdom until it is no longer a member of the EU.’

A city council September audit report for the year ending March 2017 compiled by Ernst & Young said: ‘We confirm there are no further updates arising from the EU Commission investigation into the allegation that the Council provide state aid to MMD (Shipping Services Ltd).’