The Haven Gateway Partnership consists of the ports of Harwich, Felixstowe, Ipswich, Colchester, Harwich Navyard and Mistley. All would no doubt have been lobbying for the approval of the Bathside Bay Container Terminal project. Coincidentally, final approval was given by Transport Minister Derek Twigg only three weeks later.
At the time of the lunch Gerry Sutcliffe was a junior Minister at the DTI (he's now at the Home Office) in charge of competition policy, employment and consumer affairs. His role as competition minister is particularly relevant here as Felixstowe's main competitor is Associated British Ports, who had a similar expansion plan in Dibden Bay in Southampton turned down. ABP might well have objected to Bathside Bay on competition grounds. I wonder if they were also given the benefit of a lunch with the Competition Minister?
The lunch and guest list was organised by Golden Arrow, who count Hutchison Whampoa and the Port of Felixstowe among their clients too. They also paid the bill recharged it to their very grateful clients!
Now, the question is: did Golden Arrow arrange for a similar event with their other 'pet' Minister, Stephen Ladyman?
Over to you... you know the email address.
Public affairs consultancy is a totally honourable profession, but, when it's dragged through the mud by people whose only skill appears to be opening their bulging contacts book, it's not difficult to understand why public affairs consultants no longer like calling themselves lobbyists.
I was a lobbyist for nearly ten years and I can spot this kind of lobbyist a from a mile off. The ethos of companies like Golden Arrow seems to invokes all that is wrong about lobbying. One can only hope that their clients will slowly be coming to that conclusion themselves.