Just before the end of the year I visited a couple of places that I had passed many times but had never been to. The first was the Nissan Factory, an iconic place for the region. Is it in Washington or Sunderland? It could well be in both as it is a sprawling mass of intricately laced buildings. Now factories are not really my thing yet somehow I managed to find myself deep in its viscera. I have lived to tell the tale.
The second was a different kettle of fish altogether. The Port of Blyth is what its says on the tin, a port in Blyth on the Northumberland coast. Now logistics are my thing and I have always been fascinated by the comings and goings of the ocean going vessels. A part of me has always longed to go to sea. Perhaps in another life?
I had gone to meet James to talk about Low Power Wide Area Networks and how they could help monitor product and traffic as it comes in and out of port but yet again that is peripheral to my story.
James told me how the Port of Blyth was a trust port, one that is administered as a trust by an independent statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament and governed by its own set of rules and statutes. There are fifty two in England and Wales. The alternatives are a privately owned port or one which is owned by the local municipal authority.
Although the trust port model has been around for some time it provides an example for a different kind of business. As the government minister says, ‘They are accountable to stakeholders including port users, local communities and Government, who in some ways play the same role of shareholders in a private company.’ They act in a way like a cooperative, What is good for the Port of Blyth is good for Blyth and South East Northumberland. The have the wider perspective of the area at heart when making commercial decisions.
I am convinced that the way we think about work is flawed and that the Gordon Gekko days of greed is good need to be put behind us. Unbridled profiteering is bad for society and therefore, ultimately bad for business. It is refreshing to see alternative business models in place. I am looking forward to a return visit.