THE Taunton-based United Kingdom Hydrographic Office will not be privatised, it emerged this week.

Fears had been raised that the operation, a Ministry of Defence Trading Fund, could be privatised as part of Government cutbacks.

The UKHO released a statement this week say that it had been been undergoing an Asset Management Review as part of the Government’s Operational Efficiency Programme.

The statement said: “Following months of detailed review of various options, Ministers have accepted the recommendation by the AMR Review Group for the UKHO to remain a Trading Fund.

“This is an exciting time for the UKHO as it seeks to build on its success in providing Admiralty products and services to the Royal Navy and the commercial maritime industry.

“The challenge now is to look to the future, ensure we continue to meet our critical role in maritime safety through our products and hydrographic leadership as we do now, provide an effective and efficient service to Government and to our customers, continue the growth of our digital business and maintain and further develop our relationship with our international partners.”

The move has been welcomed by Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne, who said: “I have fought vigorously for the UKHO to remain a competitive public employer in Taunton, including bringing local council leaders to lobby Defence Ministers in Westminster and petitioning the Ministry of Defence on behalf of Taunton residents.

“The confirmation of the Hydrographic Office's trading status announced this month is the best outcome for Taunton Deane. The service is a vital part of our local economy and a prestigious employer.

"This victory should ensure that Taunton will be the home of the UKHO for a long time to come."