PRIVATISING the Taunton based UK Hydrographic Office should be ruled out, according to Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne.

He visited the facility to talk to chief executive Ian Moncrieff ahead of next year’s status review.

Mr Browne said: “Previous status reviews have examined some highly controversial ideas like completely privatising the service or relocating it away from Taunton.

“I have been very active in campaigning against both of those options in the past and I remain strongly opposed to them now.

“My hope and expectation is that neither of those proposals will result from the 2015 status review.

“It is not practical to completely privatise the Hydrographic Office.

“There may be some support functions that could be delivered differently but the core service relies on government-to-government information exchanges that are incompatible with a full-scale privatisation.

“The Conservatives supported a total privatisation of the Hydrographic Office in 2005 but I am hoping a consensus against this idea can be achieved for 2015.”

Mr Browne also criticised the Labour government that considered relocating the UKHO to Exeter and said he wants the “jobs and prestige” associated with it being in Taunton.

He added: “What will be necessary is for the Hydrographic Office to continue to evolve its service to take account of the shift from paper to digital communications.”