Demand for government to step up as Portsmouth International Port slammed with ‘eye-watering’ £10m bill – as city MP warns that cost could impact council services

Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, has penned a letter to Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, asking whether compensation will be offered to ports that are out of pocket because of its decision to change the Border Operating Model.

In the letter, Mr Morgan says that the government’s ‘short-sightedness has left the port to foot an eye-watering bill for new infrastructure which may now no longer be needed.’

To meet the government’s post-Brexit trading arrangements, Portsmouth International Port (PIP) was required to quickly build a new Border Control Point.

Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan MP touring Portsmouth International Port’s new facility with its director, Mike Sellers.

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Built in record time to open for the July 1 deadline, the facility was created specifically to handle inspections on animal products, plant and forest products on imports of goods coming from the EU.

However, in April the government announced that it would not be implementing the next phase of its border operating model – meaning that this purpose-built facility will stand empty while racking up running costs of £1m a year.

The port had applied for help from the Port Infrastructure Fund, but was left to cover the shortfall.

Portsmouth City Council, which runs the port, was left with no choice but to borrow the money – and estimates it is liable for a bill of more than £10m to repay the loan.

Mr Morgan is also urging the government to clarify how trading arrangements will work, and whether the facility could be used for commercial purposes to help recoup cash in the meantime.

Following a tour of the facility with the port’s director, Mr Morgan said: ‘Tory Ministers’ short-sightedness has left PIP to foot a totally avoidable, eye-watering bill that government should take responsibility for.

‘With the port being run by the council, this total farce caused by this tired government risks the funding of the local services we all rely on.

‘Ministers should be ensuring the apparent freedoms of Brexit are benefiting our city and its port, not acting as a financial drain.

‘I will continue to push government to own up to its failures and ensure it delivers the support our city’s port deserves.’

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