Ports of Jersey overhaul consultation is launched

Jersey Harbour The States of Jersey wants to turn the Ports of Jersey into an arms-length commercial company

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A public consultation has been launched over States plans to incorporate the Ports of Jersey into an arms-length company.

Ministers say the change is needed because costs are set to rise faster than revenues.

The consultation suggests there could be a £314m shortfall by 2038.

Officials from the Unite union, who are set to meet States members on Friday, say it will oppose incorporation and lobby against the proposal.

The pitch for incorporation

  • The Ports of Jersey is effectively a government department which has historically been subject to political interference
  • An independent board of directors could set strategic direction
  • A 100% States-owned but 'arms-length' corporation could pursue commercial ventures
  • It would also be able to build cash reserves
  • An incorporated company would be able to take out loans or issue bonds

Source: States of Jersey

Ports of Jersey CEO Doug Bannister said jobs were safe and without incorporation, the ports would be unable to pay for long-term maintenance and replacement costs.

He says a more commercial ports company could cover its costs without taxpayer help by developing property, taking on debt and potentially making acquisitions.

"These are things that companies in Jersey do all the time and all day long," said Mr Bannister.

"All this is commercialisation but we're still going to be 100% States of Jersey owned."

No redundancies

The ports currently generate £43m revenue a year and retain £1m profit, which management say is inadequate to cover long-term costs.

The Albert Terminal at the harbour needs to be replaced and the airport runway will need resurfaced in 10 years.

Ports of Jersey has a £40m cash pile which, under the proposal, would be used immediately to fund nine property developments and £18m of pension liabilities.

The consultation includes an "over-riding assumption" that the company would continue to provide coastguard services, maintain small harbours and not make redundancies.

Four public meetings will be held before the consultation ends in August.

St Helier Harbour and Jersey Airport handled 2.2 million passengers and 470,000 tonnes of freight and fuel in 2013.

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