MALDON HARBOUR IMPROVEMENT COMMISSIONERS
ANNUAL REPORT 2015 – 2016
16 June 2016
LIST OF COMMISSIONERS
Chairman – Jim Dines
Vice-Chairman – Ian Hiner
Treasurer – Michael Gibson
Clerk to the Commissioners: Julie Stuchbery
Trust Ports such as Maldon are required to produce accurate and pertinent reports for stakeholders and the public at large on certain aspects of their activities (Modernising Trust Ports – Second Edition – Department for Transport 2009).
Reports should be produced alongside the annual accounts and be provided to public bodies, the local library, the media and made available to the public.
There is some exemption, i.e. on the detailed aspects, for small Trust Ports like Maldon, whilst still ensuring that information on the Port’s operations and future plans, progress against targets (if any), and their continuing compliance and improvement is included.
This Report covers the period June 2015 to May 2016, and in accordance with Department for Transport guidance, was presented to the Commissioners with the Annual Accounts for 2015/16 at their Annual Meeting on 16 June 2016.
During the year 2015/16 there was a full complement of twelve Commissioners. In June 2015, Cllr Adrian Fluker was appointed member from Maldon District Council.
The Commissioners continue to meet at the Maldon Little Ship Club. The Commissioners acknowledge the on-going support of the Club.
(iii) Liaison with Maldon District Council
Commissioners acknowledge the necessity to maintain close working arrangements with the local authority. A Member of Maldon District Council is nominated and is appointed as a Commissioner.
Liaison meetings took place at MDC in September 2015 and January 2016, attended by the Chairman and representatives from MHIC and Managers and the River Bailiff from MDC. Discussion included Hythe Quay, the Visitors’ Pontoon, river safety and proposed changes to MDC enforcement capability, the MHIC 150th Anniversary Consultation feedback, possible contamination and pollution and the Granaries Wall.
Regular meetings are on-going and Commissioners also continue to liaise and maintain links with the River Bailiff and other Council staff on an ad hoc basis.
(iv) 7th Joint River Safety Meeting
The seventh Joint River Safety Meeting, jointly organised in conjunction with the Maldon Barge Operators’ Group, was held on 17 March 2016. The meeting was again hosted by the Blackwater Sailing Club and chaired by Cllr Fluker. It was well-attended, participants representing a range of stakeholders including the local authority, the Essex Police Marine Unit, Marine Coastguard Agency and representatives from local sailing clubs and local marine businesses. The meeting provided an opportunity to pass on up to date information and served as a useful forum for discussion.
(v) Annual Public Meeting
It is a requirement for Trust Ports to hold annual meetings with stakeholders. The Annual Public Meeting was held on 19 May 2016 and was attended by 23 people, including 8 Commissioners.
The meeting was again hosted by the Blackwater Sailing Club and regarded as successful and covered a full range of river related issues such as buoy maintenance, condition of the river and environmental matters, harbour dues, liaison with MDC and Environment Agency, feedback from the Joint River Safety Meeting and the achievements of the 150th MHIC Anniversary celebration and Consultation.
There is a continued commitment on the part of the Commissioners to ensure that future meetings are held as required. The Commissioners acknowledge the on-going support of the Blackwater Sailing Club.
(vi) Consultation Issues
Commissioners are consulted on a range of issues with riverside implications such as planning applications, licensing applications, and various other issues as they arise on which comments are sought by various bodies. Commissioners have established the criteria by which these issues are considered to ensure only riverside interests affecting the role of the MHIC are taken into account.
The Commissioners participated in the Bradwell Power Station Legacy Partnership and Maldon and Blackwater Estuary Coastal Community Team meetings, and this is on-going. MHIC is a consultee for Marine Management Organisation licence applications.
The Commissioners monitor planning applications adjacent to the Harbour for possible impact on Harbour safety, navigational and environmental issues. They are also involved in monitoring and actively liaising with Maldon District Council and local businesses over issues affecting the Harbour.
The Annual Accounts for 2015/16 showed a Balance brought forward from 2014/15 of £12,720 and a Closing Balance at 31 March 2016 of £13,027.
In the light of increased costs including the necessary Combined Liability Insurance, Commissioners agreed that Harbour Dues should be increased by 2% and continue to include the 50% discount for vessels with charitable status and trips by other vessels predominantly for children under the age of 18 for the benefit of sail training or youth development. This was the first increase for over 7 years. Commissioners again agreed a 10% discount on harbour dues for 2015/16, subject to prompt submission of Passenger Returns and prompt payment of invoices.
Over the last 12 months, Commissioners have undertaken various unpaid duties on the river using their own time, vessels and equipment to maintain navigation marks, remove sunken debris from the river bed and floating debris from the surface. The hours spent exceed 250 and if contracted out to a commercial operator, would cost in excess of £8000 pa.
Throughout the year, as well as the standard bi-monthly meetings, Commissioners also review various plans and professional reports and attend liaison and consultation meetings with relevant regulatory bodies and Local Authorities. They use their expertise to advise the Commission on issues such as environmental regulation and law, monetary management and marine law. Many hours of expensive consultation are saved through the volunteer efforts of the Commissioners.
(viii) Publication of Documents
Continuing the policy of transparency of Commissioners’ activities, a range of documents continued to be lodged on the website and in the Maldon Library and therefore available to the public. The documents lodged included Agendas and Minutes, Annual Accounts, the Register of Public Interests, and various other documents as they arose.
Website updates are posted regularly and are on-going. Documents include buoy condition reports, Notices to Mariners as they are published, the Port Guide leaflet, news and forthcoming events. It continues to increase the transparency of the Commissioners’ work.
(ix) Port Aids to Navigation Availability Reporting (PANAR)
The software for the above database, which relates to the recording and reporting (to Trinity House) of the local aids to navigation, was maintained during the year to show the availability of the twelve buoys (lit and unlit) the Commissioners maintain. The ‘availability’ details are recorded and reported as required to Trinity House.
Commissioners are set a target for Category 3 Aids to Navigation (into which category the aids fall) of 97% availability over a three year rolling period. The report of Trinity House following its buoy inspection in May 2016 indicated that the buoys were found to be in good and efficient order.
The condition of the twelve buoys for which the Commissioners are responsible is continuously assessed allowing Commissioners to plan ahead for financing replacement/repair/maintenance in a timely and cost effective manner.
A rolling programme of maintenance is in place and the tracking system is kept up to date. A yellow-painted danger-marker buoy was made available.
There have been a number of incidents when the Navigational buoys have been damaged by vessels using the harbour. These occurrences have not been reported despite there being a legal requirement to do so. MHIC is the local representative of Trinity House and should be notified when a Navigation Aid is hit and is damaged. During the year there have been two incidents where the Navigation buoy mooring rope has been severed, the buoy damaged and left to drift off station. The buoys were then recovered, repaired and had new ground tackle fitted before being returned on station. More recently No 15 buoy was run down by a large vessel causing significant damage to the fibreglass body below the waterline, the mooring eye and the navigational top light.
(x) Port Marine Safety Code
This was subject to an external review, and accepted.
(xi) River Safety
MHIC maintained an interest in and monitoring of activities and developments adjacent to the Harbour ensuring that they are up to date and aware of issues that might arise which would impinge on operations within the Harbour.
(xii) 150th Anniversary
The MHIC 150th Anniversary display boards were located in Maldon Library and also used in a number of local events such as the Maldon Heritage Weekend. Commissioners gave talks to the public. The prize-winning logo design provided by the schools’ competition was used for a large flowerbed in the Promenade Park. The display boards will continue to be used.
Over the year, the MHIC raised its profile.
2 FUTURE ISSUES AND PLANS IN 2016/17
In looking forward to 2016/17, Commissioners have identified the following issues as on-going and scheduled for completion during the year.
(i) Consultation with Stakeholders
The important work of consulting with local stakeholders and regulatory organisations will be continued. On-going work includes holding the next Annual Public Meeting and the Joint River Safety Meeting, both in early 2017, and continued regular liaison and ad hoc meetings with the local authority.
Commissioners will be participating in an update Trust Port workshop provided by the British Ports Association and a stakeholder workshop for Maldon and Heybridge Central Area Masterplan.
(ii) Publication of Information
Work to expand the website will continue with further documentation being published as and when it becomes available (as well as being made available in the local Library). The Port Guide will continue to be distributed to local organisations and be available on the website.
The Commissioners will continue to review its financial situation and explore the possibility of raising further income from sources other than the Harbour Dues.
Maldon Harbour Improvement Commissioners