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PLA launch hosts BBC Breakfast Show

July 2006 saw a first for the PLA in its continuing work to step up communication with local residents in the PLA area. The BBC Essex Breakfast Show was broadcast live from a PLA harbour service patrol launch from various points along the Thames in the Essex area.

Setting up the radio show required some careful pre-planning between the PLA and BBC Essex as well as some prior testing of the new mobile broadcast equipment which allowed the live transmissions to take place.

A busy scene on board 'Benfleet' during the live radio programmeThe day began at 0400 with PLA deputy harbour master (lower) Roy Stanbrook, PR manager Martin Garside and launch master  Peter Whitehead welcoming BBC Essex producer Andy Gordon on board 'Benfleet' at Tilbury landing stage. A run up river to Barking enabled Andy Gordon to double-check the broadcast equipment and to prepare for the whole show.

'Benfleet' arrived at Barking Riverside at about 0530 for final setting up and a meeting with the show's presenter, John Hayes. The programme began at 0606 with a live link from the jetty at Barking Riverside followed by an interview with Roger Bond from Barking Riverside development discussing growth in that part of the Thames Gateway area.

Nick Bruce-White from RSPB then boarded the launch which headed down river to Rainham Marshes, where he was interviewed live from the launch about bird and other wildlife in the area. This widened into a discussion about ensuring that economic development activity takes full account of the need for good environmental protection and practice.

The launch then set off for Tilbury, enabling a number of live sequences to take place including pieces underlining the importance of the Thames and the Port of London to the regional economyBBC Presenter John Hayes (right) interviewing Nick Bruce-White from RSPB and to the transport and logistics infrastructure. An interview with Roy Stanbrook provided a further opportunity to emphasise the PLA case that riverside developments should take account of the need to keep working wharves and port facilities open for future cargo handling use. 

John Hayes even managed to do an off the cuff travel bulletin about traffic on the M25 as the launch passed under the QEII bridge.    

Shortly after 0800, Will McKee from Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation boarded at Tilbury Landing stage for a live interview about growth and planning issues in the Thurrock area.

Reflecting on the day, Roy Stanbrook said:

"Our PLA harbour service launch was certainly an unusual studio for a radio programme - but the BBC seemed more than pleased with the results. Hopefully the programme's listeners found it enjoyable and it was also a useful opportunity to discuss some serious issues about the role of the River today and the key role of port operations into the future.

BBC Presenter John Hayes (centre) with Martin Garside (left) and Roy Stanbrook (right) on board 'Benfleet'"It was also a valuable chance to test new developments in broadcast technology from a PLA vessel. This was achieved not least with the excellent support of the launch crews on duty that day -  Peter Whitehead; John Hart; Bob Bradley; Barry White; Steve Mordue and Danny Wade."

Andy Gordon from BBC Essex said: "A massive thank you to the PLA for making this special Breakfast show happen. It would not have even been thought of, let alone actually achieved, without close input from the PLA. Furthermore, working with PLA staff was a great pleasure and made the planning and doing incredibly easy. I hope we can work together again in the future. Rest assured I will be suggesting some ideas to my Editor!"