P&O Ferry sackings could scupper DP World involvement in Solent Freeport project
CONTROVERSY over the sacking of P&O Ferries staff could scupper a major firm’s potential involvement in the Solent Freeport, it has emerged.
Multinational logistics organisation DP World – the parent company of P&O Ferries – owns the deep water terminal at the Port of Southampton and was consulted over customs sites within the freeport.
The fallout over the ferry firm's sacking of 800 of its workers over a video call has prompted a government review of DP World’s conduct and Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Portsmouth City Council leader, has questioned the inclusion of the company's representative on the Solent Freeport board.
A spokesperson for the Solent Freeport Consortium Ltd confirmed this week that chiefs had met and discussed DP World's involvement.
He added: "We understand the situation is being reviewed nationally and we are committed to working with government to consider and respond to the findings of this review.
"The Solent Freeport is currently in active discussion with government and DP World in relation to their wider involvement in the Solent Freeport."
The spokesperson clarified: "While developing our Solent Freeport proposal, we engaged with DP World, alongside a number of other organisations, in the context of potential customs sites.
"DP World are not a customs site, do not own land at any of the tax sites within the Solent Freeport proposal and will not directly receive any public funds as part of the freeport.”
He added: "We look forward to continuing to work with government in securing a freeport for the Solent area which will bring investment to our region, create jobs and help level up our important coastal communities."
The Solent site is one of eight freeports chosen by the government as part of its levelling up agenda.
Within the zone are sites including Marchwood and Fawley oil refinery, as well as parts of Southampton, its airport, and a site in Havant.
As previously reported in the A&T, supporters claim the Solent Freeport – a reduced tax and regulation zone – could attract £2bn of investment and over 56,000 jobs to the region.
It will bring tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and a streamlined planning processes to promote regeneration and innovation.