The Port of Dover, which launched Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade but couldn’t secure privatisation last year, is in talks to secure new borrowing powers.
Tim Waggott, who was brought in as acting chief executive in June, is reviewing how he could borrow money to develop the port without the debt ending up on the public sector balance sheet. The Government does not want to add to the national debt at a time that it is preaching austerity, even though Europe’s busiest ferry port needs investment.
Mr Waggott told The Independent on Sunday: “We are looking to all the options available to the board to be a catalyst for economic growth and regeneration in Dover.”
The port is looking to borrow “tens of millions of pounds”, according to an industry source, after privatisation plans were blocked in December.
There were fears that a foreign buyer could take over a port that is at the foot of the white cliffs of Dover, a source of national pride because of Dame Vera Lynn’s World War II song.
Last year Charlie Elphicke, Dover’s Conservative MP, said: “The very idea that the port should be sold off was desperate and out of touch. Think of the port and the white cliffs and you think of freedom and victory over tyranny.”