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TOPIC: Harbour Trust News June 2011

Harbour Trust News June 2011 8 years 7 months ago #1

NEWS June 2011
To all Founder Members
From the Chairman, Bembridge Harbour Trust.
2nd June 2011
Dear Founder Member
I am writing to you with an update of where we are and what we are expecting will happen next.
As you will know, the two companies, Maritime & Leisure Investments and the Bembridge Harbour Improvement Company, that operate the Bembridge Harbour and the surrounding properties necessary to run it have gone into administration at the request of their banker.
The Administrator has told me that he expects to put this all on the market for sale as one lot towards the end of this month. Agents have been instructed to draw up the sale particulars and expressions of interest will be issued shortly.
The Administrator seems to be finding the matter or sorting out the harbour finances quite complicated and he has not yet reached the point to decide whether he will be selling the companies under a CVA (Creditors Voluntary Arrangement) or the assets themselves
However, matters are clearly moving forward and we believe that this will present the best opportunity we have had for years to achieve our objective and buy the harbour and the properties at a reasonable price; not at the inflated price that Mr Blatch has been asking up to now.
We will never be forgiven if we miss this opportunity and we may never have another chance to save and restore the Harbour for the benefit of the whole community after all the years of misuse and neglect.
So we must now be ready to bid for it.
Until we know exactly how and what the Administrator’s plans are and have done our due diligence, we cannot tell what will be a realistic price. Nevertheless we have to move forward with a serious funding programme. We already have a consortium in place which is willing to buy the properties on the Trust’s behalf which is excellent.
This leaves the harbour itself about which hard information is required as no accounts have been produced for over two years. However, from what we know and can see the value of the harbour itself must be very low as it is declining rapidly and there is an enormous amount of work to be done to get it back into working order which cannot be achieved over night. It involves considerable dredging of the pontoon and marina areas and the internal channel, none of which has amazingly been done for over eight years. Also in urgent need of repair or replacement are many of the pontoons and piles, particularly Fisherman’s which will have to be replaced completely before it finally collapses. There are also other areas of concern such as the side walls to the marina which are looking very suspect and shore facilities generally are in need of updating. And there is also the groyne on the Point which, whilst not being the direct responsibility of the harbour company, looks as if it will have to be replaced by local funding, and the harbour is the main benefactor.
All this will be expensive. We have had estimates and have decided that we need a “war chest” of at least £1million if we are to be properly funded and get everything up and running for a successful long term future. We realise that this seems a lot but it is absolutely necessary, and if the project receives the support of the whole community and users of the harbour it should be achievable. There are so many people whose livelihood, households and recreation depend on the continuing existence of Bembridge Harbour.
I should say that our initial discussions with many users of the harbour and local residents have given us great confidence that our target will be reached, and perhaps exceeded.
We have been working on a funding plan. We will be starting this shortly with a mailing circulation to every, or at least as many as we can, households in the East Wight. This will take the form of an information memorandum and an invitation to attend a public launch of the “Save Bembridge Harbour” campaign. This will take place in Bembridge, hopefully in the Village Hall, in early July.
This will start our campaign and we will be seeking pledges throughout the community; after all BHT was founded as a community venture. We have to have pledges at this stage rather than donations because of our position as a charity.
We will then follow this up with seeking pledges from all those whom we know through the sailing Clubs of Bembridge, Brading Haven and Seaview, the Angling Club as well as local and Isle of Wight wide commercial interests. We will of course be approaching certain charities and funding institutions such as the EU and the Lottery funds that we have been in touch with.
We will be taking full advantage of the considerable tax benefits available to both donors and to charities.
We will try and be in touch with everybody we think will be interested in supporting our aims and for whom a restored and revived Harbour will be so important to preserving and enhancing their future in every respect; not to mention the value of their homes.
I want to assure you that, as in the past, the Trust will only bid having carefully considered the advice of our property and legal advisers. The Trustees are deeply conscious that we are a charity and we will certainly not overbid or get carried away in a bidding war. However, we will not make any bid until we are satisfied that we are properly funded for the long term future.
We have been canvassing support elsewhere. Cowes Harbour Commissioners have offered us technical help and advice on running the Harbour; and the Solent Protection Society are right behind us.
I hope that you will have seen the reports of our recent meeting at the House of Commons with the Minister, Mike Penning MP, who is responsible for Ports at the DfT and he was very supportive of our plans. We also have support from our MP, Andrew Turner, and from the IoWC through Councillor Edward Giles and Stuart Love of the IoW C directorate who attended the meeting. I attach a copy of the useful article in the County Press of 27 May which covers the essence of the meeting very well.
Finally, please pass on to us details of any source of funds that you think we may not have thought of, such as other Charities or Foundations with suitable funds available to help our cause, statutory bodies in the UK or in Europe, or just individuals who may not be known to us and we might otherwise not approach.
When the time comes, please support us: this is so important for us all. We will not be forgiven if we let this opportunity slip through our fingers now.
Yours sincerely
Michael MacInnes
Chairman of Trustees; Bembridge Harbour Trust; A registered charity
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