New boss revealed at Yarmouth port

The builders of Yarmouth's £80m outer harbour have underlined their ambitions for the port with the appointment of a high-powered chief executive officer.

The builders of Yarmouth's £80m outer harbour have underlined their ambitions for the port with the appointment of a high-powered chief executive officer.

Eddie Freeman, 60, described by industry insiders as a significant player, built his reputation as managing director of the Humber Sea Terminal, transforming a greenfield site at Killingholme, on the Humber, to the most successful Ro-Ro ferry port on the East coast apart from Dover.

His arrival in Yarmouth yesterday, only weeks before contractors Van Oord and Edmund Nuttall begin constructing the two 1,400m breakwaters, coincided with the departure of Alex Woods, whose role as port manager has been made redundant.

Mr Freeman, who also has extensive experience of port operations in South Africa, said: “The Humber Sea Terminal has become hugely successful, and the way it was achieved, blending old trades with new business, has strong parallels with what we are trying to do here.”

Significantly, he was successful in attracting a succession of Ro-Ro operators to the Humber, and a ferry route to Ijmuiden - creating the fastest North Sea crossing to Holland - is seen as a vital piece in the jigsaw for the new Yarmouth port.

He said: “These are still early days but I think there are huge opportunities for Yarmouth and, if they are handled correctly, I am confident they will bear fruit.”

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Mr Freeman, who left Killingholme when parent company, the Simon Group, sold out to a Belgian firm, said that in wooing prospective ferry operators and clients of the harbour's planned container terminal, it was a tremendous advantage to be able to present a new-build facility, able to accommodate customers' specific requirements.

Commenting on his new role at the helm of Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC), he said: “I would like to think I am a figure the industry can trust, and that we can put a team together to make this a huge success.”

Eliza O'Toole, director of International Port Holdings (IPH), which owns GYPC, said Mr Freeman's appointment reflected the level of investment in the port - £50m on breakwater construct-ion and £30m on the new container terminal - and its intention to diversify into new trades.

She said: “We were looking for someone with that kind of experience and Eddie's recent experience at Killingholme, which is now the leading Ro-Ro port on the Humber, stands the outer harbour in good stead.

“We think this gives Yarmouth the best opportunity going forward and, having decided to appoint a chief executive officer, we felt a port manager was no longer required. We are very sad to have made Alex redundant and wish him well in the future.”

Mr Woods had been port manager since 1999, having worked as the port's commercial manager before that. He was also on the board of EastPort, the company set up in conjunction with Yarmouth Borough Council and Norfolk County Council, to progress the project to the stage where it was taken over by a commercial operator.

IPH aims to have part of the outer harbour operating by the end of next year. Up to 300 workers will be involved in the construction and it is thought the project will eventually create more than 1,000 jobs directly and indirectly.