A council report into the economic future of Leith has been strongly criticised by Forth Ports, after it described the Docks as an “under-used investment-starved asset right at the
heart of Leith.”
The council’s “Leith Study Report,” published last year, gave a bleak economic assessment of the future of the docks at Leith.
It suggested that the port was in decline, losing market share to other ports, and following the collapse of various master-plans for the docks area, claimed that there were now no “proposals or strategies from the current operators for further port-related investment and growth which could result in new jobs.”
In a detailed consultation response obtained by Freedom of Information, Forth Ports hit back at this analysis and claimed that, in fact, 2014 had been the busiest year ever for the port.
The firm said that, Leith Docks accounted for 20% of all Forth Ports Scottish business and it went on to highlight recent investment by other firms in the docks area as evidence of growth.
A port representative went on to claim that the council report is, “damaging to Forth Ports’ reputation, contains wholly inaccurate financial information and has the potential to promote unfounded investor uncertainty damaging the Port’s operations and in turn the economies of Leith and other communities.”
They go on to claim that the parts of the report that are critical of the firms structure and investment plans for the port are “potentially libellous.”
Ironically, it would seem that much of the stooshie could have been avoided if the council and Forth Ports had just picked up the telephone a bit sooner.
A council statement accompanying the release of the consultation responses made no reference to any forthcoming libel case.
It said: “Forth Ports submitted comprehensive comments that reflected their significant concerns about the consultation document.
“Resource constraints had meant that Forth Ports’ written input to the draft had not been possible. Partly as a result of this, there were a number of text references in the Study Report which Forth Ports regarded as inaccurate or inappropriate.
“These concerns were discussed in a meeting and subsequent correspondence with the Council and addressed in the final document.
“The tone of the comments is a reflection of the company’s strong desire to provide what they would regard as an accurate, fair and balanced account of their business operations.”
Consultation responses were also submitted by a number of private individuals and other Leith groups, including The Leith Trust, the Leith Chamber of Commerce, and the Port of Leith Housing Association.
You can read all the consultation responses here.
You can find the final Leith Economic Framework Document here.