2019 Stakeholder Engagement
One of the main challenges in 2019 was to manage the broad range of stakeholder expectations alongside our development activity at both Milford Waterfront and Pembroke Port. A great deal of time was committed to ensure people had opportunities to talk with us about our plans on both sides of the Waterway. We are not a distant, far away organisation and we know Pembrokeshire as ‘home’; we therefore have a vested interest in building the best possible future for Pembrokeshire and her people.
With regard to our proposed developments at Milford Waterfront, most concerns expressed were around the issue of parking. In Pembroke Port, the predominant issues were over heritage losses and the application to handle and store refuse derived fuel (RDF). The concerns about flooding issues around Havens Head and Lower Priory understandably remained a key focus. While the Port continues to maintain its responsibilities in this regard, we have engaged further with residents. Our Chair, Chris Martin, and Vice-Chair, Andy Edwards, took a lead and spent time with residents discussing the issues around causes of the flooding. This board-level engagement would be unusual in most commercial organisations. However, as Directors of a Trust Port, our board members are accountable to all stakeholders (which includes local residents) for their actions and decisions. Chris and Andy both felt their role carried with it a duty to be more hands-on over this issue.
At a time when traditional or moderated news sources are often set aside in favour of social media, it has never been more important to have face-to-face exchange of views where possible. Last year our Annual Stakeholder Meeting and public consultations on project specific topics gave our stakeholders, including the public, opportunity to discuss a range of issues with our managers and staff. Throughout 2019, our open-door policy also meant discussions did not have to be confined to formal events. Stakeholder engagement will remain a priority in 2020 and reflects our desire to talk more with our neighbours recognising that we share the same spaces and sit alongside them in our Pembrokeshire lives.
Every interaction with stakeholders is an opportunity to explain some of the less well understood aspects of our Trust Port status. With much discussion centred around our proposals, one of our key messages was that all our planned investments must generate a commercial return in order to ensure the long-term success of the port. Within any investment plans there must also be a wider benefit to the local area. (There is more information about our duties and governance in the Government’s published Ports Good Governance Guidance.)
Our staff chose Alzheimer’s Society to be our charitable cause of the year for 2019. Many received training to become Dementia Friends, joining a national movement of people who learn more about the disease so they can respond by doing small, everyday things that help people they know or meet who live with dementia.
2019 was the fourth year running the Under the Bridge (UTB) project in partnership with Milford Youth Matters and with support from the Police and Crime Commissioner. The project continues to address elements of deprivation by providing a fun and safe place on a Friday night in the summertime with free urban art, music, dance and skate workshops. As before, UTB was hugely popular and saw more youth ambassadors appointed, which gave some young people the opportunity to take on more of a leadership role and helped raise the profile of the scheme in their school.
Under the Bridge won the national Business Wales Sustainability Award in 2019. We are very proud of the partnership that has grown between the Port and Milford Youth Matters. For our part it has helped us build closer links with young people in Milford Haven, many of whom will become future leaders of their communities. It also helped challenge perceptions of “the youth of today” among older generations, and promoted to a wider audience the good work of young people who get involved and help others.
Our Community Fund team had another busy year. There were 85 successful applications. Recipients included Neyland Rowing Club, the Apostleship of the Sea and RYA Cymru. The Community Fund represents only a small part of our overall community outreach programme. A greater portion of our support is channelled through strategic relationships we are building with organisations such as Milford Youth Matters. Looking ahead to 2020 we will be building deeper links with organisations in Pembroke Dock to mirror commitments we make on the north side of the Waterway.
To measure and benchmark our community benefit we subscribe to London Benchmarking Group (LBG) which is the global standard for measuring corporate community investment. LBG has confirmed that we are one of the highest contributors, as a proportion of our revenue, among its members and our support for economic development is a significant area where we stand out.