The general manager of Shoreham harbour, scene of bitter protests against the livestock trade, was forced to resign yesterday days before a larger livestock ship begins to use the port.
Philip Lacey is credited with bringing the livestock trade to Shoreham and was the focus of opposition. He leaves with a rumoured pay-off of £30,000.
Mr Lacey's departure follows clashes with the port's board of trustees, who encouraged his resignation. He maintained the port was obliged to accept the trade whereas the board ordered him to hinder the exporters as much as possible.
Jim Glover, chairman of the port users' association at Shoreham, said: "Most port users perceive that his man has been actively encouraging this business ... I hope it won't be long before the port and it's users can return to a normal way of life."
Pat Hawkes, a board member, said that Mr Lacey's departure ensured "a big part of the problem has gone".
The livestock trade began through Shoreham in early January and has cost millions of pounds to police. Although Mr Lacey's departure does not mean an immediate end to the trade, many in Shoreham believe obstacles can now be placed in the path of exporters to make the trade uneconomic.
However, a new ship capable of carrying approximately 40 trailers is due to arrive at the port. The Cap Ferrat will allow freight rates to be cut from £1,400 to about £800. Local residents fear the creation of a giant livestock port. When fully operational, the Cap Ferrat will be capable of carrying all of Britain's livestock exports.Reuse content