The Port of Felixstowe is today [22nd September 2005] celebrating the signing of a landmark agreement with Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Port Health Authority, the local agency responsible for the inspection of food products coming through the Port. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), signed in an official ceremony attended by senior representatives from Suffolk Coastal District Council and the Port, sets out a clear set of objectives and working practices for the timely and efficient inspection of containers at Felixstowe.
At the signing ceremony, Duncan Morgan, Director of Operations at the Port of Felixstowe, said:
“This Memorandum of Agreement is the culmination of extensive discussions that we have had with the Port Health Authority over the past 12 months on ways to reinforce and improve the existing spirit of co-operation and joint working.”
“We are now able to offer an improved turnaround time for those shipments subject to Port Health involvement. This will further improve service levels, and help to secure the Port’s leading position in the handling of food products”.
The Port of Felixstowe boasts state-of-the-art facilities for the examination of food products, and has invested millions of pounds in recent years to ensure that it exceeds current EU guidelines.
Sherrie Green, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Community Well-being, said
“We very much support this enlightened approach by the Port of Felixstowe to joint working practices, and this Memorandum of Agreement represents an important step, as the official acknowledgement of our partnership.
“Over 300 containers per week are subject to Port Health examinations at Felixstowe. Given this volume, and the increases we expect to see in future, it is essential that we are able to ensure that EU regulations are adhered to, with the minimum delay. The good relations that we enjoy with the Port will ensure that customers continue to receive excellent levels of customer service, and will facilitate shorter turnaround times for their shipments.”
A Joint Management Team (JMT), comprised of department heads from the Port of Felixstowe and Port Health Authority, has been established, and will evaluate day-to-day performance and discuss any matters arising at monthly meetings. An MoA Steering Committee, made up of senior representatives from both parties, has also been set up, meeting quarterly to resolve issues raised by the JMT and to undertake a full annual review of the MoA.
Simon Fraser, Chairman of the Felixstowe Port Users’ Association, is optimistic of the significant benefits that the MoA will bring to customers:
“Felixstowe is one of the UK’s leading ports for the handling of foodstuffs, and has shown its commitment to achieving optimum results with an ongoing programme of improvements to its infrastructure, and a continued willingness to discuss and resolve issues relating to examination procedures.”
“Over the past year, customers have seen a significant reduction in waiting times for container examinations at the Port. This increased efficiency will serve to make Felixstowe even more attractive for this type of traffic, and will have a knock-on benefit for the whole logistics chain.”