Port spreads its news at conference

THIRTY MPs and 16 government ministers visited the Port of Felixstowe's stand at the Labour Party conference - plus one very high profile delegate.Officials from the port were delighted to meet Cherie Blair, who stopped by to find out more about the proposals and progress of a £240 million project to expand the container terminal.

THIRTY MPs and 16 government ministers visited the Port of Felixstowe's stand at the Labour Party conference - plus one very high profile delegate.

Officials from the port were delighted to meet Cherie Blair, who stopped by to find out more about the proposals and progress of a £240 million project to expand the container terminal.

The Prime Minister's wife took a great interest the development project, chatting to union official Geordie Landles, corporate affairs manager Paul Davey, internal communications manager Donna Minter and corporate affairs assistant Helen Sharkey.

Mr Landles and fellow convenor Phil Pemberton later had the chance to speak to PM Tony Blair himself to update him on the project when they met him at the TGWU reception.

Other visitors to the Hutchison Ports (HPH) stand at the G-Mex and Manchester International Conference Centre included ministers John Reid (secretary of state for the home department), Malcolm Wicks (energy), David Milliband (secretary of state for environment), Stephen Ladyman (shipping), Peter Hain (secretary of state for Northern Ireland), Margaret Hodge (trade and industry), Derek Twigg (defence), and Ruth Kelly (minister for women).

As well as giving MPs and party representatives a full update on what is happening with the plans to redevelop the southern part of the port, it was a chance to press for other initiatives to help boost trade and the economy further in the future.

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These included the importance of updating the cross-country freight line to Nuneaton to allow the track to take the new higher boxes and divert cargo away from the busy London routes.

Mr Davey said: “Attending the conference was a very worthwhile exercise.

“The MPs we spoke to were very interested in what we were doing and it was a great opportunity to explain our future plans for Felixstowe and Harwich.

“They were very supportive.”

The government is currently carrying out a ports policy review, while a select committee is also holding an inquiry into the ports industry, and HPH has submitted evidence to both.

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