Felixstowe: What a birthday gift - 1,500 new jobs!

IT was one of the biggest party nights Felixstowe had ever seen as the town and port came together to celebrate two major milestones.

The Port of Felixstowe organised a fantastic day to mark both its 125th birthday, and the opening of its new �300 million expansion project.

The sun shone as the Princess Royal visited to inaugurate the two new deepwater berths, and the wonderful warm weather continued as 300 guests enjoyed a sensational opening ceremony and celebration meal, and then thousands turned out for a seafront family party in the evening.

But the big news of the day was the port’s announcement that the new berths and the second phase to follow in a few years’ time would provide in total 1,500 new jobs for the community.

Clemence Cheng, managing director, central Europe of Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), spoke of the company’s pride in Felixstowe and said it was here for the long-haul, committed to the port’s future.

“The Port of Felixstowe was HPH’s first investment outside Hong Kong, and this exciting new development underscores our ongoing commitment to ensuring that it has the facilities to retain its position amongst the world’s leading ports,” he said.

“Our latest investment will help ensure that the UK remains a direct-call destination for the latest generation of ultra-large container ships.”

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David Gledhill, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports UK, said the new jobs would be directly-employed portworkers.

“As well as providing a boost to British business the investment programme planned for Felixstowe will also benefit the local area,” he said.

“Over 32,000 individuals are currently employed, directly or indirectly, in the Haven Gateway, of which the Port of Felixstowe is a part.

“The expansion of Felixstowe will create 1,500 new jobs, a massive boon for employment in the region.”

Currently the Port of Felixstowe deals with over 40 per cent of the country’s container cargo – around �60bn of imports and exports each year. The expansion could add a further �20bn to this figure.

Mr Gledhill and Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Lord Tollemache, greeted the Princess Royal after she landed at the port in her burgundy helicopter.

She made a brief visit to the port’s headquarters Tomline House, where she declined to exchange her colourful tartan patterned jacket and blue trousers for bright orange Port of Felixstowe overalls, as planned, though she did accept a hard hat and a hi-viz tabard.

She was then taken by Mercedes people carrier to the new berths, where she met operations manager Stephen Abrahams and crane instructor Kevin Harris.

After climbing two flights of stairs, a lift took her to the top of the 80m high crane quayside – one of the biggest ship-to-shore cranes in the world.

Later 300 guests mainly members of the port’s customers and also dignitaries, attended the official opening of the new terminal.

They were led through a “time tunnel” showing a visual representation of the port’s development from a tiny Dock Basin to one of the world’s leading container terminals, on the quayside.

After taking their seats in a specially-erected grandstand, they were treated to a spectacular opening ceremony, including a sensational exhibition of free running with a team running up and leaping off containers, plus robots and rockets, and fireworks.

Later there was a celebratory dinner for the guests in a marquee at Landguard Terminal.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey was thrilled with the news of the 1,500 new jobs at the containers terminal.

“It’s great news and reflects the ongoing march of Felixstowe in the logistics sector,” she said.

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