Down but not out, says ports chief

THE stunned boss of Hartlepool’s dockland has vowed to bring in a big investor after the town missed out on 800 jobs.

PD Ports chief executive David Robinson said talks were already under way with other potential businesses who were every bit as big as the Spanish firm which turned down the chance to build a giant factory to make wind turbines on the dockland.

The unnamed firms are believed to be wind farm operators although their identities cannot be revealed as negotiations are at a much earlier stage than those with Gamesa.

“We have got other people who are interested in coming to the port and they are on a similar scale to Gamesa,” said Mr Robinson.

“We are trying to position Hartlepool to secure one or two of these major infrastructure sites, with construction first and logistics later. It would be great to get one in the bag.”

He admitted he was saddened at the Gamesa blow, adding: “We came second and no-one wants to do that. I certainly don’t, but you can’t win them all. We are pretty sanguine about it, but this is one piece of bad news in a long-term strategy

“You only have to look at JDR Cables which was not there a couple of years ago and now it employs 150 people in Hartlepool.”

Mr Robinson said PD Ports – along with other Hartlepool campaigners had “put forward a very good proposal and thought we got a lot of support locally, regionally and nationally, but they made a decision to go to Scotland. We always knew that was the competition and unfortunately, they have beaten us to it.

He added: “But there are more fish in the sea and we are still very optimistic about Hartlepool.

“This was the opportunity in front of us and we did not win it.”

Mr Robinson said he only got news of the sad blow for Hartlepool shortly before Gamesa placed a lengthy statement on its website.

“They kept us in suspense,” he said. “They put out a press release at 11am and I got a phone call from one of their directors.

“We thought we had put forward a very good proposal and there was not much more we could have done.

“The rationale for Scotland was that the overall package was cheaper. I don’t know the details so I can’t comment on that.

“But it is closer to their potential target markets.”

There was still plenty to be positive about in Hartlepool, said Mr Robinson.

“We still believe Hartlepool is a good proposition for this sector. We have already got JDR Cables and Heerema and there is activity at the Hartlepool docks because it is the hub of activity for the wind farm being developed in the Tees Bay.”