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Port of London takes on first woman chief in 100 years

PUBLISHED: 06:59 08 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:21 05 October 2010

On the waterfront... a windswept Helen in her new domain

On the waterfront... a windswept Helen in her new domain

Andy Wallace 2009

A WOMAN has been appointed chairman of the Port of London authority for the first time in its 100-year history. The Transport State Secretary has announced the appointment of Helen Alexander, who takes over on January 1

By Mike Brooke

A WOMAN has been appointed chairman of the Port of London authority for the first time in its 100-year history.

Transport State Secretary Lord Adonis announced the appointment last night of Helen Alexander, current president of the CBI who takes over the PLA on January 1.

Helen succeeds Simon Sherrard, who has been the port authority’s chief since 2001.

She has her work cut out with the rapid expansion of the port and the regeneration along 95 miles of the Thames, according to Mr Sherrard who steps down after eight busy years.

“River traffic is continuing to grow, with inland freight movements set to triple to six million tonnes over the next five years,” he said.

“Helen takes over with the PLA facing a substantial agenda for the future.

“But her broad business knowledge and understanding of the organisation developed over the last six months stand her in good stead for leading the organisation into the future.”

Helen, who was appointed a non-executive director in June, now heads the Port authority responsible for navigational and safety of the entire tidal Thames, from Southend to Teddington, which makes up Britain’s second largest port handling 50 million cargo tonnes each year.

It is the busiest inland waterway in the country, fast becoming a thriving commuter route including the piers at Canary Wharf, St Katharine’s and The Tower.


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