Shock as government map of UK's main marine hubs doesn't include the Humber

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 18 Dec 2017

The Humber has been left off a new government map highlighting marine clusters around the UK.

The four major ports on the estuary - Hull, Goole, Grimsby and Immingham - handle more than 65 million tonnes of cargo between them and contribute £ to the UK economy every year.

But the country's main gateway to northern Europe is not among seven marine clusters identified in a report which forms part of the government's new flagship industrial strategy which was launched last month.

Instead, Merseyside, Teeside, Southampton, the Kent ports and even Lowestoft are included.

Published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the report identifies specific areas where groups of related businesses could be classed as a cluster for a particular sector.

Read more: Hull port chief raises concerns about what Brexit means for food checks

"It says: "In the case of maritime, it is reassuring to note that all the clusters are by the coast."

The analysis is expected to be used to help inform and direct future government funding and support to improve productivity over the next decade.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "How these Whitehall planners can miss the Humber Estuary and our importance as a port - and with our marine and renewables sectors - is shocking.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson in the House of Commons

"It feels the same as when they ignored the Selby to Hull rail line in rail electrification plans a few years ago. It begs the question as to how much Hull and the Humber feature in their economic plans."

There was an audible gasp from city councillors when the authority's regeneration director Mark Jones broke the news of the Humber's absence from the map at a scrutiny meeting today.

King George Dock (Image: Peter Harbour)

He said: "The Humber estuary is a strategic national asset so it does concern me the Humber was not identified as a marine cluster in this report.

"We are the biggest port complex in the UK but it does seem we are not getting the message across to the right people."

Mr Jones said one reason for the snub could be down to the way company data is analysed.

The government's new map of key UK marine clusters doesn't feature the Humber

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"The vast majority of large companies on the Humber, such as P&O, DFDS and ABP, do not present their accounts through their offices here.

"Under what is known as the standard industrial classification (SIC) of economic activity, where accounts are presented matters.

"For example, Slough benefits because RB have their headquarters there even though they have a major manufacturing and research and development facility here in Hull.

"It's a continual issue for us."

Councillor Sean Chaytor suggested an optician's appointment was in order for the government officials behind the report.

"They should have gone to Specsavers," he said.

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