Annual Public Meeting May 2016

MALDON HARBOUR IMPROVEMENT COMMISSIONERS
NOTES OF THE ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING
THURSDAY, 19 MAY 2016 – 7.30 pm
BLACKWATER SAILING CLUB, BASIN ROAD, HEYBRIDGE BASIN, CM9 4SD

PRESENT:
Jim Dines, Chairman, Commissioners
Ian Hiner, Vice-Chairman, Commissioners
John Dines, Commissioners
Nancy Harrisson, Commissioners
Jon Howorth, Commissioners
Gerry Courtney, Commissioners
Nigel Cardy, Commissioners
John Dines, Commissioners
Sue Woods, Maldon Little Ship Club
Peter Woods, RYA Eastern Region/BACASA
Pat White, Maldon Yacht Club
Mike Boutell, Blackwater Sailing Club
Kevin Springham, Blackwater Sailing Club
Pauline Marshall, Maldon Yacht Club
Geoff Wass, Blackwater Sailing Club
Ian Wilson, Blackwater Marine
Mike Lewis, Maldon Little Ship Club
Roger Lankester, Heybridge Parish Council
Clint Swann, CRS Marine
Grant Everiss, Essex Waterways Ltd
David Smart, Essex Waterways Ltd
Bryan Spencer, Marconi SC
Julie Stuchbery, Clerk, Commissioners

APOLOGIES:  M Gibson (Treasurer, Commissioners), A Fluker (Commissioners), D Leggett (Commissioners), D Patient (Commissioners), A Wiseman (Commissioners), Cllr Channer (MDC), River Bailiff (MDC), H Bexley (National Trust)

IN THE CHAIR:  Jim Dines, Chairman, Commissioners

1.         WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He thanked the Blackwater Sailing Club for the use of their premises, both for this meeting and for the Joint River Safety Meeting.

The members of the meeting introduced themselves.

2.         OPENING STATEMENT BY THE-CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMISSIONERS

The Chairman reviewed the status and role of Maldon Harbour Improvement Commissioners (MHIC), being a statutory body with meetings at least 6 times a year.  The area covered by the MHIC included those included in the Blackwater Local Plan, areas of SSI and Ramsar listing, European Estuaries Management Scheme and many other public bodies.  He commented that MHIC had to be aware that activities in the Harbour could cause conflicts eg wildlife.  MHIC was also involved in MMO licensing.

Liaison with MDC and EA
MHIC kept in touch with outside agencies via meetings such as the Annual Joint River Safety Meeting and MDC Liaison meetings.  The Liaison meetings with MDC provided a forum for discussion of issues including speed restrictions and regulation of Personal Water Craft (PWC).  MHIC was liaising with MDC and EA regarding The Granaries Wall.

Buoy Maintenance
The Commission was responsible to Trinity House for safe navigation in the Harbour.  MHIC maintained and renovated the buoys in the Harbour and removed debris from the river which included large timbers.  MHIC was the sole body responsible.

Port Marine Safety Code
The Port Marine Safety Code was under review.

Other matters
The Maldon Port Guide had been reviewed and was available on the website  www.mhic.org.uk

MHIC had just celebrated their 150th Anniversary which included a consultation with Harbour Users, the answers from which had been collated and published on the website.

3.         JOINT RIVER SAFETY MEETING (17 March 2016)

The meeting, run jointly with the Maldon Barge Operators’ Group and attended by MDC, had a good attendance.  The Notes had been distributed.

4.         FEEDBACK ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR OF MHIC

Commissioner Gerry Courtney gave an overview.  The celebration of the 150th Anniversary had been suggested by the late David Lawton, Commissioner, who had made a major contribution to MHIC over many years.  Activities included a competition for schools to design a logo for the year which was used as a design for a floral display in the Promenade Park.  A picture of the winner and the logo were included in the Exhibition boards for the celebration.  The Exhibition boards had been used extensively at venues including the Library, Barge Match and Maldon Heritage weekend.

The consultation was rolled out to Harbour Users with a view to gathering suggestions for the future of the Harbour over the next 20 years.  The findings had been collated and published.  They had also been used in discussions with MDC eg facilities for Visitors.

The next part of the initiative would be to locate a webcam on the Hythe, in agreement with MLSC, to show the state of the tide.  The feed would be available on websites eg MHIC and Maldon Tourism.

5.         CONDITION OF THE RIVER, ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

Commissioner Ian Hiner outlined the work carried out, including the fitting of new Harbour Limits (port and starboard) buoys and ground tackle, the overhaul of No 10 buoy and the overhaul and replacement of No 14 buoy.  All buoys are inspected regularly throughout the year, recorded and published on the MHIC website.  No 13 buoy went adrift earlier in the year but was refitted the next day.  A report was made on the Trinity House PANAR system.  The spare buoys have been fully overhauled.  Pest control ie sea gulls had improved.  MHIC had been discussing the possibility of a new buoy.

The Chairman explained that this work was done gratis by the Commissioners, with an estimated equivalent of £6,000 – £7,000 in labour costs alone, if it were contracted out.

6.         FINANCE

The Chairman reviewed the Income and Expenditure sheet.  The Employers’ and Public Indemnity Insurance had increased this year.  The Commission is a public body, so accounts had to be professionally audited.  MHIC would like to maintain a contingency for emergency situations eg collision damage to buoys, storm damage, bank collapse, dredging etc.

7.         HARBOUR DUES

The Chairman stated that Harbour Dues were the only income for MHIC, all coming from passenger boats as there is no freight.  There was a 2% increase this year after a period of 12 years with no increase.  This was necessary to cover the cost of Insurance.  He gave an overview of the returns from the passenger boats as to number of trips and number of passengers.

Question regarding Harbour Dues
A question had been submitted in advance by Paul Jeffries.  This was read out:
“Maldon charges sailing barges the highest harbour dues in the UK while providing none of the facilities other ports offer.  The costs of maintaining a historic vessel are high enough without MHICs charges.  For example Hydrogen paid £2,154 to the commissioners in 2015 this is the equivalent cost of a new topsail each year.  Can the commissioners please justify the high cost of harbour dues charged to sailing barges in Maldon?”

The Chairman invited comments from the floor.  There was discussion including clarification that mooring charges went solely to MDC and whether MHIC income could be made up in any other way.

Commissioners had researched Harbour Dues at other harbours.  This was reviewed.  It was noted that comparison was difficult due to differing charging structures.  There was further discussion including consideration of cost to passengers and possible alternative methods of charging.  The point was made that the Maldon system only charges per passenger and boats do not pay when they are not earning.  The need for the provision of navigational aids eg buoys, was reiterated.

The Chairman stated that MHIC, as a statutory body, could not take charitable donations.  He summarised the position on charges by quoting from the Statute (available on the website).  Discussion indicated that 2% was a small increase when the context was considered.

8.         SEA PLANES AT OSEA ISLAND

Loch Lomond Sea Planes were applying for 2 flights per day.  The CAA only had authority when planes were in the air.  MDC had contacted the MCA and established that planes should comply with their regulations when they were on the water.  The area is outside MHIC’s remit, but they had concern because traffic into and out of the Harbour could be affected.

There was discussion.  It was noted that at take off and landing, a sea plane would be exceeding speed limits whilst it was on the water.  Bryan Spencer, Marconi Sailing Club, expressed concern following an incident last year when the sea plane, without prior warning, came in to land during a 65-boat race, effectively causing a “near miss”.  Heights of masts would be a factor.

Commissioner Nancy Harrisson suggested a multi-pronged approach with all concerned writing individually to a wide range of bodies including MPs, MCA etc.  MHIC would research possible contacts and publish them on their website.

Peter Woods, RYA Eastern Region/BACASA asked to be contacted if anyone saw the plane, email at  pwandsw@btopenworld.com

9.         QUESTIONS SUBMITTED IN ADVANCE

Only one, see section 7 above.

10.       OTHER ISSUES NOT COVERED ABOVE

MMO Marine Plan Areas – MHIC had been invited to contribute.  MMO were seeking local knowledge, and gathering evidence.  Commissioner Nancy Harrisson commented that originally MMO were relatively unaware of “small” ports, and the possible repercussions of MMO actions on small ports.

Blue New Deal Workshop – On the 8 June 2016.  Roger Lankester, Heybridge PC, stated that it is open to all stakeholders.  The workshop would review increased economic sustainability and resilience for coastal communities.  (Post meeting note – the details of this workshop and links were published on the MHIC website after the meeting.)

Heybridge Neighbourhood Plan – Roger Lankester stated that this included the water, so local marine plans would need to be included.  He provided a map of the area.

The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and for their contributions.  The meeting was closed at 8.45 pm.