By Marcus Leach

Unite, Britain's biggest union, is challenging the coalition government to back Dover becoming a ‘People's Port’.

Unite has welcomed the decision by the transport secretary, Philip Hammond, to re-open the consultation on the future of the Port of Dover.

Unite has been campaigning against the Dover Harbour Board's plans to privatise the Port of Dover, as it backs a plan which proposes that the Port of Dover becomes a ‘People's Port’.

The ‘People’s Port’ would be managed by a board made up of representatives from the community of Dover, the workers at the port and representatives of the ferry operators.

The board's proposed constitution will be drawn up, so that there needs to be a consensus of the whole community before there can be any further sale and the community must agree to any proposals to make changes to the running of the port.

Unite intends to take full advantage of the forthcoming consultation to argue for a 'Peoples Port'. In a recent ballot, Unite members working at the Port of Dover overwhelmingly backed the proposal to make Dover a ‘People's Port’. However, Unite is not alone, the ‘People's Port’ is also backed by the community of Dover, ferry operators and other port users.

"The coalition government now has a golden opportunity to prove there is substance behind the rhetoric of the ‘Big Society’. The people of Dover, the workers at the port and the ferry operators all back the ‘Peoples Port’, that is why the government should make this a reality," Unite national officer Julia Long said.

"Unite is going to be doing everything in its power to campaign to ensure the ownership of the Port of Dover is transferred to its rightful place - the people of Dover."