A successor has been chosen for Port of London Authority (PLA) chairman Dame Helen Alexander, who steps down from the post on completion of her six-year term at end December.
The new chairman appointed by the government to take over from January 1 is Christopher Rodrigues, who after a career in tourism and finance currently chairs Visit Britain.
PLA’s remit covers the 95 miles of the tidal Thames – from Teddington Lock, through the capital, and out to the North Sea – where it is responsible for navigational safety, as well as areas such as marine planning and environmental protection. As such it oversees both Port of London, the UK’s second biggest port, and the country’s busiest inland waterway for passengers and freight.
“I am proud of the PLA’s achievements over the last six years, helping the Thames to be the busiest and safest it’s ever been,” said outgoing chairman Dame Helen, also chairman of UBM. “We’ve seen a transformation of river use. Last year modern day records were set with nearly 10m passengers travelling and over 5m tonnes of freight moved between wharves.”
Under Alexander’s chairmanship the PLA also commissioned two research studies, into the economic impact of the port and a first-of-its-kind assessment of amenity value of the river, as part of a wider project to draw up a Thames Vision for the future.
The studies showed that not only are over 43,000 jobs linked to the port, generating more than £4bn for the national economy, but that the Thames river also brings more than £100m in health benefits for residents, who enjoy some 10m bike rides and walks on the towpath every year, as well as contributing to tourism spend in the capital.
“Now the PLA is looking to the future… (and) the Thames Vision project has identified great potential,” said the outgoing chairman. “The PLA executive team, supported by Christopher, will have the exciting challenge of bringing it to fruition.”
“I’m truly delighted to be joining the PLA as it finishes shaping its Vision for the river’s future,” commented Rodrigues (left), referring to his “lifelong affinity” with the river as a varsity oarsman, rowing club official and craft-owning freeman of the Waterman’s Company. “I look forward to… helping build support for the Vision from the river’s multiple stakeholders.”
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