Referendum could be held over Dover 'people's port' bid

Image caption,
Dame Vera Lynn, who sang (There'll Be Blue Birds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover has supported the bid

People in Dover are set to be given the chance to vote on whether they think the local community should attempt to buy the town's port.

Dover People's Port Trust (DPPT) started a £200m bid to purchase the port in 2010.

Dover Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, who has supported the scheme, said they planned to enact rarely used powers to force a referendum over the issue.

Residents have been told they can become members of DPPT for £10.

Funding for the bid, in excess of the contribution from Dover residents, would be raised in the City of London.

Dame Vera Lynn

Dover Harbour Board (DHB) previously said the scheme was "totally unrealistic and undeliverable" and the trust was making promises it could not deliver.

The referendum process will be started at a public meeting at Dover Town Hall on Thursday.

The port has operated as a trust for more than 400 years and, with no shareholders, all revenue goes back into the business.

DHB, which has run the port as a trust since 1606, asked the government for permission to privatise it in January 2010.

DPPT was begun on 30 October on Dover beach at an event attended by singer Dame Vera Lynn.

The trust says on its website it wants to prevent the "gateway to the nation" being sold to overseas buyers.

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