Boat owners and leisure users in Falmouth are set to be hit by a maximum 30% increase in charges from Falmouth Port (FH) as the authority encounters rough seas after difficult years in which trade was seriously affected by many factors beyond his control.
This will undoubtedly lead to a backlash from disgruntled users of the port.
FH is currently in the process of advising leisure customers using the facilities, including moorings, berths and boat parking, of the significant fee increases for the Port Trust during the 2022 season, which are necessary to cope with market conditions and ensure its commercial and environmental viability for the future. .
The increases – most of which have been limited to a maximum of 30% depending on vessel size – will rebalance historically low rates while keeping them competitive, fair – and in many cases still below market levels.
Falmouth has always had cheaper rates for holidaymakers compared to other ports on the UK’s south coast, but times have changed. The port management team conducted an in-depth analysis of the pricing policy for both commercial and leisure operations. An in-depth study of other port fee schedules was also reviewed to ensure that FH is fair to its stakeholders.
“Nobody likes price hikes, but we’ve had to accept that we can’t sustain, secure and grow this spectacular and vibrant marina and trade if we continue to undercharge the services we have there. ‘legal obligation to provide,’ Falmouth Harbor said. CEO Miles Carden.
“We are facing considerable challenges of rising costs which are unavoidable and cannot be delayed any longer because the future of the port depends on it.”
Miles Carden, a man with a strong business background in Cornwall, has been CEO for just one year. He’s the man tasked with keeping the ship buoyant with new ideas and strategies to buck the downward trend in revenue.
Nowadays, a CEO of any port needs a good entrepreneurial spirit, industry connections, communication skills and innovative ideas to improve the port infrastructure.
“The Port of Falmouth is a Port Trust and its primary duty is to manage the Port in a sustainable and safe manner which benefits the local economy, the environment and our communities of local stakeholders and customers.
“The price increases have been driven by rising costs, market forces, price inflation and continued global economic instability caused by the pandemic. The increases will help the Port of Falmouth meet its statutory obligations and commitments to maintaining a prosperous and safe port for the benefit of all,” added Miles.
The FH’s annual report for 2020 is a stark reminder that the authority requires the implementation of a damage limitation exercise to put the organization back on the right track.
All figures for 2020 are down: commercial shipping down 16.9%, yachting down 19.1%, pilotage down 17.3%, number of ships down 25%, bunker vessels down 12.5% and overall revenues down 17%. FH has a liability of £2.65m to the pilots’ pension fund, which is expected to be repaid by 2028.
Commercial shipping revenue at Falmouth is down due to several factors. In 2020, the port did not welcome a single cruise ship although The World remained docked for several months. Provisioning is currently at an all-time low as Trafigura continues to supply vessels offshore when weather conditions are favourable.
A&P Falmouth has the vital cluster contract generating lots of revenue for the A&P Group and the town, but RFA ships sit alongside the docks for months.
The Department of Transport’s Ports Good Governance Guidance states: “Ports of good governance are commercial enterprises and should therefore aim to generate a financial surplus. Ports of Trust should establish a target level of return for existing activities as well as new investments, including an appropriate element for contingencies and risks.
“When pursuing a return objective, trusted ports should set their port dues and other charges and price their investments at commercial and competitive rates, without exploiting their trusted port status to undermine their competitors or abuse a dominant position in a market.
“Trusted Ports Boards should perform their duties and tasks for the benefit of all stakeholders in a transparent and accountable manner.”
Following the initial rebalancing increases which come into effect for the 2022 season, Falmouth Harbor aims to keep future loads at levels close to the rate of inflation.
In 2020, the dual role of Harbor Master and Chief Executive, in place for decades, was split.
With hindsight, this role should have changed a long time ago, when port management became more complex, especially from a commercial point of view.
In addition, the authority has enormous safety and environmental responsibilities imposed on it by government legislation.
The Port Authority, in my opinion, has come to a point where it has become too autocratic and disconnected from the man in the street. That attitude has changed dramatically for the better now with Carrie Gilmore, the chairperson at the helm, Miles Carden as CEO and Captain Duncan Paul, the harbor master, looking after FH operations in its waters.
To find out more about Falmouth Harbor’s work on how royalties are used to invest in the port and the local community, see www.falmouthharbour.co.uk
A full Q&A and fee schedule will be posted online during the week beginning February 7, when all customers will receive itemized fees for their particular service.