Portsmouth port boss criticises government for ‘ignoring’ city’s no-deal conundrum

THE boss of Portsmouth International Port says he has done all he can to prepare for Brexit – but that the government is continuing to ignore the potential problems it will cause in the city.

Monday, 8th April 2019, 12:12 pm
Updated Monday, 8th April 2019, 12:17 pm
Mike Sellers, the director of Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire

Director Mike Sellers believes that the Department for Transport (DfT) is refusing to acknowledge that there would be an issue at the port if the UK leaves without a deal.

Fears have been raised consistently about the impact of a no-deal Brexit, and the lack of funding given to Portsmouth so far.

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Mike Sellers, the director of Portsmouth International Port. Picture: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire

Mr Sellers said: ‘There has been a lot of work in the port industry to prepare for the worst case, I am confident we will be Brexit-ready whatever the outcome may be, even a no-deal.

‘The issue at the moment is around the funding not the preparation.

‘The DfT are not accepting there is going to be a potential issue at Portsmouth.’

The port’s director claims that with only 13 lorry lengths between the port and the motorway network, any delays at the border through new customs checks would cause heavy congestion on the M275 and M27.

But he said the cost of setting up the system required in a no-deal situation was £4m while the government had only provided £345,000 in funding.

Fears have been raised in the past about the potential for lorries to sit stationary on the M275, as a no-deal scenario could stop them from entering the port.

Meanwhile, the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has developed a plan for two lorry triage processing points – one on the edge of the city and another on the A31 near Winchester.

‘If they didn't have that plan in place, it wouldn't go smoothly, there would be considerable congestion around Portsmouth.’

A spokeswoman for Hampshire County Council says that the council will seek reimbursement if the work was required.

In a statement, a spokeswoman from the Department for Transport added: ‘We continue to work closely with local resilience forums, including the Hampshire and Isle of Wight LRF, to help them prepare for any potential impacts of the UK's exit from the EU.

‘The government will consider a claim for support should the local authorities find themselves in a position of financial hardship following the implementation of mitigation works.’

A spokesman from Brittany Ferries says that the company is ready for action no matter what happens with Brexit.

The spokesman said: ‘As far as Brittany Ferries is concerned, we are prepared for a no-deal Brexit.

‘It’s not what anyone wants, but we have been working with all partners via the local resilience forum – including the port – to ensure that traffic flows work whatever scenario we face.

‘So we want to reassure holiday makers travelling with us this weekend and freight customers: we are ready and prepared to welcome you on board.’