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TOPIC: 2010: Bembridge Harbour USERS GROUP UPDATE – 1 NOVEMBER

2010: Bembridge Harbour USERS GROUP UPDATE – 1 NOVEMBER 9 years 3 months ago #1

The following was supplied to us by BHUG:-
BH USERS GROUP UPDATE – 1 NOVEMBER 2010
1. Sale of the Harbour. This appears to be a stalemate at the moment between the offers put in by Bembridge Harbour Trust and the Harbour Company for the Harbour and surrounding sites owned by its parent Maritime & Leisure Investments Limited. The three offers put in so far by BHT, which have all been based on independent professional valuations, have been rejected by Barry Blatch as too low. BHT is still believed to be the only serious bidder and is always open to any discussion to move matters forward if Mr Blatch or the Bank or anyone else involved is interested. The word around the bazaars is that Mr Blatch cannot entertain any bid for the Harbour etc. that does not cover the significant loan facility provided by Handelsbanken, Portsmouth Branch, in February 2009. The exact amount of this is not known as the accounts at 31 March 2010 have not yet been released. But based on earlier published information, it is thought to be in the region of at least £3m. Meanwhile the deteriorating condition of the Harbour through continuing lack of dredging and poor maintenance is of great concern to its economic and environmental future and its underlying values. Notification to the appropriate authorities of these and other important problems recently highlighted is in hand by BASHHA.
2. Harbour Dues.
a. Sadly and very disappointingly the news was received in mid-October that BHUG’s appeals against the level of Harbour Dues for the years 2006 - 2009 failed with the Inquiry Chairman concluding that the appeals were "not well-founded" (which means that the objections have not been upheld after careful examination but with no criticism of the objector). His report is very critical of many aspects of the Harbour Company’s accounting procedures and wholly rejected their figures as to both the potential income from harbour dues and their calculation of the expenditure which should be met from harbour dues income. However, although he agreed that BHUG’s estimated figure for the income (which was substantially higher than BHIC’s) was broadly correct, he decided that the figures submitted by BHUG on the costs that should be met out of harbour dues were too low. He therefore amended BHUG’s estimate of the costs upwards so that they virtually equalled BHUG’s estimate of the income from harbour dues. On the basis that the costs and income were equal, he therefore found that the level of harbour dues for the years in question was correct! The fact that he (as had BHUG) had only had sight of one year’s of audited accounts seems to have been conveniently overlooked!
b. Clearly this is a very disappointing result and seems a poor reward for all the hard work that was done to oppose the level of harbour dues. The only comfort is that that BHIC have been criticised on a number of counts and if nothing else will certainly have to be more careful in future in accounting for the revenue from harbour dues. It is hard to understand why the DfT should have taken so long in promulgating the Inspector’s report and the Secretary of State’s subsequent decision. The report is dated the 2nd of March 2010 and the DfT letter is dated the 14th October 2010! Cynically the result ensures that DfT is now unlikely to be swamped with new appeals from other harbours which is what was likely to have happened had the appeals been upheld. New precedence would have been set that was clearly a step too far for the breathtakingly inefficient Casework & Environment branch of the Ports division of DfT to cope with!
c. The decision letter from DfT and the Inspector’s report can be downloaded through the BHUG blogsite (bembridgeharbourusergroup.blogspot.com/ ).
d. Finally, we have recently heard from Colin Morris, who as the Head of Casework & Environment Branch has been the Bembridge liaison at DfT for some time that he and the department are being re-organised and that he will no longer be involved. Hopefully a new broom will be useful to us and the new Minister, Mike Penning, who we will be writing to shortly.
3. Bembridge Boatyard. No one appears to know what is going on with Bembridge Boatyard. Rumours abound that Barry Blatch has still not paid the agreed sale price. Charlie Head operates from the old X-Isle Shed.
4. Yar Quay Hotel. Understood to definitely still be on the back burner, although there has been a recent rumour that a new plan is under consideration.
5. Old Engine Shed Refurbishment to Provide Office & Stores Space. No apparent progress on this project due to the lack of funds.
6. Inner Harbour Dredging. We have been advised by the Harbour Liaison Group that the current intention is for the dredging in the harbour to be undertaken 'this time next year' (October 2011) subject to the necessary consents and licences being in place (these are currently being discussed/negotiated), dredgers being available and naturally finance being in place. It is intended to undertake all the dredging with a 'grab and split barge' and not use the silt pond on the far side of Embankment Road.
7. Outer Channel Maintenance Dredging. The Management Protocol required to meet the 2009 directive from DfT & DC&LG has, according to the Liaison Group, now been agreed with the Planning Authority & Natural England. That said, we have not yet been able to get hold of a copy. During low springs, Nigel continues to work out in the area between No 2a & Nos 4/5 channel buoys. The corner by No 6 buoy has also had a fair amount taken out during the last few months.
8. Channel Buoys. The Harbour Master has advised that he has the necessary funding to purchase 6 new light weight buoys which he plans to inject with foam for added buoyancy. Hopefully, as previously promised, they will be deployed with lights and include information on the speed limit.
9. Fore & Aft Moorings. Only 50% were commissioned this summer; of these, only about half were taken. The top buoys of all bar the line closest to the channel are expected to be removed for the winter period (1st Dec - 31st Mar). Despite numerous assurances in the past by the Harbour Company that the exposed anchors would be bedded in, nothing appears to have been done and they therefore continue to be a hazard during marginal states of the tide.
10. Houseboats. The June 2009 application for piles, a sewerage system and supporting engineering works for 33 houseboats has still not yet appeared on the IW planning sub-Committee Agenda. Nor has a new application been put in for use of the Car Park. BHUG continues to monitor both closely. If/when the former is eventually heard, the best we can probably hope for is the requirement for the works to have been completed before the additional houseboats are allowed on site.
11. Wades (Selwyn Marina) & Fisherman’s Pontoon. No apparent progress on the provision of electricity on Wades (Selwyn Marina) as it is apparently linked to the houseboat planning application. In the absence of a sale, the B&B “barge” on Wades (Selwyn Marina) Pontoon is likely to remain there for the foreseeable future. Although minor repairs have been made, the major and long overdue refurbishment of Fisherman’s Pontoon is on hold pending availability of funding. The temporary extension pontoon that was in place last year was removed prior to the start of the season, and there is a good chance that the contentious proposed extension will now not be proceeded with.
12. Bembridge Marina. Minor repairs have been undertaken, but plans to re-position one of the pontoons are on hold pending funding provision.
13. Harbour Liaison Group/Harbour Management Plan. BHUG was invited to the BHLG meeting in June and a number of amendments to the Management Plan were agreed. These have in the most part now been subsumed into the amended plan that has recently been re-issued. To view or download a copy, click on the following link - Bembridge Harbour MP 2010. A list of the amendments made is included at the back of the document. There remains
the “small” matter of the production of the Appendix with the follow-up Implementation and Monitoring Plan, as well as the BHLG Report on the progress made by the Harbour Company in relation to the original 2008 plan. Additionally, the production of a supporting Port Marine Safety Code for the safe operation of the Harbour (NB: BHLG have said that they will look into this and establish what 'extra' is required). We will keep an eye on progress of all of these and provide further updates in due course.
14. Communication. After years of pressure by BHUG on the Harbour Company to improve their communication to users & visitors, you will be pleased to hear that the Liaison Group has just announced that in conjunction with the Harbour Company they intend to publish three newsletters per annum - 'around this time of the year' - Winter Edition, 'prior to Easter' - Start of Season and another early July for the 'busy period' - that will include input from Clubs and other Groups (including BHUG & BASHHA). The Harbour websites www.bembridgeharbour.co.uk and www.bembridgeharbour.com are also apparently in the process of being updated.
15. LNTM. To remind you, there is a link to QHM’s Notices on www.bembridgeharbour.com; we have recently been advised that in future Bembridge Harbour Local Notices will also be posted there. In the meantime, we plan to forward to BHLG a list of important/useful LNTMs that should be included as a minimum (i.e speed limits, mooring danger areas, channel marks etc) in the hopes that they might actually be able to get some of them published.
16. Byelaws. There are a number of Byelaw anomalies identified in the Management Plan that really should be sorted. We have been advised by BHLG that they are being discussed with the Harbour Company but that it is not an easy or cheap job to change them.
17. Bembridge Harbour Trust. Primarily concentrating on the sale of the harbour.
18. Bembridge Lifeboat Station. The new Tamar Lifeboat “Alfred Albert Williams” arrived on Sunday 24th September and was declared operational in mid-October. The Mersey Class ALB, trailer and tractor have returned to the mainland and the temporary site on Silver Beach is being reverted to its original condition. The container with the ILB and launching tractor is now located in the construction site at Lane end pending the re-build of the inshore boathouse.
19. Eastern Yar River & Coastal Strategy. Despite all the hard work put in by the St Helens & Bembridge Coastal and Harbour WG, minimal changes appeared in the final draft report. However, NE have agreed in principal to privately funded repairs to Bembridge Groyne and to allow beach nourishment and repairs to the St Helens Groynes should it be decided in the fullness of time that soft defences are better than just pumping concrete in the holes. Allegedly the 2010 - 2011 IWC budget includes just over £1m for essential repairs to the Duver Wall. Two new holes and subsidence areas have emerged over the last few weeks and have been cordoned off by the Council who clearly think that there is serious danger of the wall collapsing in both places.
20. Shoreline Management Plan. This is a IWC produced plan that is in the process of being updated. The public consultation period is now over. It appears to have taken the EYS outcome into account although its author was very luke warm on repairing the Bembridge Groyne; we have since been advised by NE that they remain content that privately funded repairs would be favourably considered and that they had written to IWC to this effect. Sadly, the SMP offers no support to finding alternative ways of protecting the foreshore at Forelands (i.e. in front of Bembridge Coast Hotel) which is obviously disappointing as the current soft option using shingle appears to most sensible people to be a complete waste of time & money.
21. Bembridge & St Helens Harbour Association (BASHHA). Do please support this very worthy cause that seeks to protect all our interests around the Harbour and has the Users Group as a sub-Committee. There is a minimal annual subscription (£3.00 or Life Membership £30.00). For more details, see www.bashha.org.uk/.
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