Portsmouth City Council set to buy £3m crane to secure shipping firm Portico and port's future

A NEW £3m crane could secure the future of the city's shipping company.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 10:58 am
An impression of the new 3m crane alongside one currently in operation at Portico. Picture: Portsmouth International Port

Council-owned Portico is looking to secure a 432-tonne crane for use at Portsmouth International Port that would be able to match the needs of clients who are 'moving to larger vessels.'

Without the investment council officers have warned the company could lose future contracts and face 'significant reputational damage.'

Portsmouth councillors will decide whether to approve the £3m spend, which will come from a loan, during full council next week.

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Speaking at a meeting with leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson today (Oct 11), the council's director of finance Chris Ward, said: 'This is simply bringing forward a planned purchase earlier than we had anticipated.

'We had featured this as part of the capital programme. It has been brought forward as there is an opportunity for increased trade.'

If cash is approved the crane will be leased to Portico by the council.

Mr Ward added: 'It was already planned as a Portsmouth City Council purchase as opposed to a Portico purchase. That's because it provides the council with the greatest level of security.

'The council will own the asset. In the event there are any difficulties with Portico the council still has that asset that it can sell, and cranes tend to have good second hand resell value.'

The crane earmarked for purchase is a Second Kone Model 6507, which can lift up to 125 tonnes.  It will also be enabled for hook up to electrical supply to remove the need for diesel power.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson agreed. He said: 'The work that we need this for is immediate and would be foolish for the council to put this off if,' he said.

'We need to make sure get clients coming in to use Portico.'

It comes after the council approved a £15m loan to Portico in February, which was known as MMD Shipping, to ensure it would remain profitable after fruit importer Geest Line withdrew.

However, in August Geest announced it would return to Portsmouth for a five-year deal.

A final decision will be made at full council on Tuesday, October 15.