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Business De-regulation – Revoke the “Dockyard Ports Regulations 1865” as applicable to Plymouth

Comment 2nd July 2010

Back in 2002 the Dockyard Ports Regulations 1865, as they had previously applied to the Port of Rosyth in Scotland, were revoked to free up Rosyth for commercial port development by Forth Ports Ltd.  A great success story, exemplifying how new uses for historic government assets can stimulate sustainable economic regeneration and employment creation.

When, historically, the Navy employed some 50,000 people in Plymouth (more than one-third of the city's workforce) it made good sense for the the Port to be managed by Ministers and Civil Servants under the Dockyard Ports Regulations 1865.  However, more recent MoD cutbacks and reduced Naval Operational needs mean that today the Navy only employs only circa 1800 people in the City, yet the extensive and under-used Port infrastructure in Devonport and Yonderbury remains managed by Ministers and Civil Servants. 

In the 2010's UK Regional Ports should no longer be managed by government departments.  

So, the Dockayard Ports Regulations 1865, as they continue to apply to the Port of Plymouth, should be revoked (as per the Rosyth precedent), allowing the Port to be fully exploited as a major commercial regional Port under a dedicated competent Port Authority – as a seamless succession strategy to offset ongoing MoD cutbacks.



Why does this matter?

For decades, Plymouth's economy has been drifting "in limbo" as one strategic defence review after another have progressively cutback MoD use of the Port's maritime infrastructure.  The time has come for the Port to be released from management by Ministers and Civil servants, to instead be developed as a commercial port (with the Navy remaining on a lease-back basis, as per the model of the BBC's future plans for Television Centre). 

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