Operating a statutory body in a commercial environment
A Port of London Authority case study

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Page 2: The PLA’s mission

Port Of London Authority 4 Image 3All organisations aim to serve the needs of their stakeholders. These can be individuals or groups, e.g. shareholders, managers, employees, customers or the general public, who have a stake in the running of the organisation or in the consequences of its activities.

In order to show stakeholders what its core values are, an organisation produces a mission statement. The PLA’s mission statement shows that it is committed to:

  • maintaining freedom of access to the Port of London
  • ensuring safety of navigation on the tidal River Thames
  • pursuing first class operational standards and competitive costs
  • promoting the UK’s largest port as a place where enterprise can flourish
  • respecting and enhancing the environment of the Thames
  • being a fair and considerate employer.

The PLA is responsible for a 95-mile stretch of the tidal River Thames from Teddington to the sea. It owns much of the river bed and the foreshore up to the high water mark. It provides navigational services for ships using the port, including the maintenance of shipping channels and moorings and navigation lights. The river can be split into three distinct sections, with different activities in each stretch.

To meet the requirements of its stakeholders, the PLA employs 409 people, half of whom work on the river to meet the needs of a series of legal responsibilities imposed by Parliament and exercise the powers they have been given. The responsibilities given to the PLA include:

  • regulation of safe navigation of the river
  • licensing of river works and dredging
  • hydrographic (river bed) surveying
  • registration of vessels
  • removal of sunken vessels and other obstructions
  • licensing of river operators, the watermen and lightermen
  • promoting the port.

Port Of London Authority 4 Image 5The Port of London possesses considerable advantages over many of its rival ports. It is ideally situated to serve the markets in the prosperous South East. It can take advantage of London’s communications and infrastructure, including the new rail links and the major national motorway and trunk road systems which can  transport goods onwards to anywhere in the country. The frequent ferries have improved access to European markets and for cruise passengers there are five international airports within easy access. During 1997, over 30,400 vessels arrived at and departed from the Port of London, making it one of the busiest ports in Europe.

Port of London Authority | Operating a statutory body in a commercial environment