Portsmouth City Council seeks £50,000 slice of Langstone Harbour Board profits

The entrance to Langstone Harbour viewed from Eastney
The entrance to Langstone Harbour viewed from Eastney
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A HARBOUR authority could be forced to give £50,000 of profits to the taxpayer.

Portsmouth’s council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he wants the Langstone Harbour Board to hand over a share of its profits over the past year.

It comes as the Hayling-based board – which manages all harbour activities and its wildlife – is at the centre of a service review to make it self-sufficient.

Currently, a precept of £70,900 – jointly paid for by Havant and Portsmouth councils – helps to keep the 52-year-old harbour authority going.

Both councils have now said they want to scrap any taxpayer support by the financial year 2015/16.

A meeting of the board outlined the accounts, which because of an upturn in commercial shipping and pilotage, had yielded a surplus income of around £100,000.

In previous years the authority has had a shortfall.

Meanwhile, Havant Borough Council’s cabinet has agreed to award a grant of £10,000 to get consultants to look at how the board can be self-funding.

But Portsmouth City Council is not prepared to hand over any money unless it gets some of it back.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who sits on the board’s committee, told The News: ‘I have said to them that I’m quite happy to contribute £10,000 as long as the harbour board gives the council £50,000 back.

‘People in Portsmouth have been paying for this through their tax for many years.

‘It’s made more profit than expected. The shareholders who are the people of Portsmouth and Havant should receive that money back.’

He added: ‘If they won’t give us that the harbour board needs to pay for this themselves. They clearly are able to stand on their own two feet.’ Havant’s leader Tony Briggs, who also sits on the board’s committee, said there was an ‘on-going discussion’ about whether some cash should be given back. He said: ‘As far as the local authority is concerned we have made it absolutely clear we wish to see the Langstone Harbour Board operating without a precept.

Asked whether the harbour authority should give some money back, he said: ‘Clearly if they are going to continue to make a profit and take £70,000 a year from the local authority in the precept, the answer is yes.’

No harbour office official was available for comment.