River Safety March 2015


Notes of the 6th Annual Joint River Safety Meeting on Thursday 26th March 2015 at the Blackwater Sailing Club at 1930

Ben Brown                    Maldon District Council Chair of Meeting
Nancy Harrisson          Maldon Harbour Improvement Commissioners
Daniel Leggett              MHIC
Jon Howorth                 MHIC
John Dines                    MHIC
Ian Hiner                       MHIC
Gerry Courtney            MHIC
Mike Gibson                 MHIC
David Patient               MHIC
Allan Wiseman            MHIC
Jim Dines                      MHIC/Downs Road Boatyard
Bob Collins                   Marconi Sailing Club
Rob Salvidge                Topsail Charters
Kevin Burtonshaw      SB Kitty
Richard Titchener       Maldon Barge Operators Group
Paul Rawson               Essex Police Marine Unit
Chris Jones                  Millbeach Marine Club
Richard Pusey            Blackwater Sailing Club
Joe Leary                     Blackwater Sailing Club
Geoff Wass                 Blackwater Sailing Club
John Timms                Blackwater Sailing Club and local resident
Jen Baines                   Blackwater Sailing Club
Steve Jarred                Blackwater Sailing Club
John Rogers                Maldon Little Ship Club
Peter Woods               RYA
Pauline Marshall        Maldon Yacht Club
Pat White                    Commodore Maldon Yacht Club
Geoff Vale                   Goldhanger Sailing Club
Nigel Harmer              River Bailiff
Terry O’Sullivan          Thames Sailing Barge Trust
Don Baines                 Thames Sailing Barge Trust/Blackwater Sailing Club
Anni Ridsdill Smith      Frangipani Stand Up Paddle Boats
Mike Ridsdill Smith      as above
Louise Harrison           as above
Steve Moore                Bramston Canoe Club
Andrew Rudge             Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Nigel Cardy                  Landbreach
Kevin Finch                  Marigold Charters
Ray Bush                      SWSC

The Chairman opened the meeting by introducing himself as the Leisure, Countryside and Tourism Manager for Maldon District Council having taken over some of the role performed by Peter Garrett who had previously chaired this meeting. He asked each person present to introduce themselves and followed the published agenda.

Essex Police Marine Unit

Paul Rawson described the work of the slimmed down unit, which was focussed on countering terrorism but remained committed to assisting where possible with local matters. He mentioned some successful prosecutions for theft and speeding afloat and paid tribute to Nigel Harmer and Maldon District Council for their prompt assistance in prosecuting three cases.

There were no further suggestions of reducing the service and indeed there is the possibility of extending the area covered into Kent and Suffolk.

The unit continued to act on calls from the public subject to operations and the contacts are dial 999 or 101 (in a non-emergency); the Marine Duty Phone is 07976065917; office number 01621782121; email marineu@essex.pnn.police.uk

Later, during discussion about speeding, Paul offered to task the police rib to the Blackwater over the forthcoming Easter weekend subject to other requirements.

Hythe Quay

The River Bailiff reported that work would start on repairs to Hythe Quay in October and should conclude at the end of December 2015. Contractors had been appointed in January with a proposed start date of March but the work had been delayed by agreement in order not to interfere with vessel operators over the summer months.

New Buoy and Incident Reporting etc. Ian Hiner for MHIC mentioned the new buoy referred to at last year’s meeting was in place off the Promenade Extension. It was unlit and marked on charts.

He told the meeting there is now a form available on the MHIC website (www.mhic.org.uk) to report incidents like near misses, collision or damage to navigation marks. The form should be sent to the Clerk to the Commissioners. In future there will be a minimum charge of £200 in the event of damage to navigation buoys within the MHIC area. It is an offence not to report such damage to Trinity House who delegate their responsibilities to MHIC.

Gerry Courtney referred the meeting to a consultation on the future of the port to mark the 150 year anniversary of MHIC. Forms are available from the Clerk and many have been sent out and some already submitted. The closing date is 23rd April 2015. Submissions will be collated and published without identifying individuals.

Barges/Yachts/Dinghies/Buoys and Updates

Richard Titchener referred to the success of the safety briefings to cadets by Nigel Cardy and Paul Jeffries before the Blackwater Sailing Club Cadet Week, and confirmed Paul would be happy to do the same this year.

Nigel Harmer reported he will be publicising Maldon to visiting boats via the press, though there was little or no budget for dredging of the visitor berths. MHIC have produced the Port Guide referred to last year, which gives guidance about where berths are available. It is in the MDC Tourist Information Centre and on the website and will be sent out.

Problems with speeding jet skis were reported, particularly in the vicinity of Millbeach, one person reporting witnessing some carrying small children at speed. There followed discussion about how this problem might be addressed. Nigel Harmer reported Council Rangers are undergoing training in order to respond on shore and owners of launching sites were reminded of their responsibilities regularly. Some cooperated fully and mention was made of one requiring jet skis to be insured and identified but others were less helpful. In each case evidence was needed, and there had been successful prosecutions using photographs. In the past he had been able to patrol the river but although he still had a rib, the budget for operation had been withdrawn. Although new jet skis have identity numbers, there is nothing to there is nothing to ensure that new owners register their PWC when being sold second hand. John Rogers asked Paul Rawson if the Essex Police and the Marine Unit could link and he answered the shore-based police could if there was antisocial behaviour but it should be remembered the officers attending might not be marine-orientated. The Council was encouraged to consider whether there was anything contractual they could impose where launch sites crossed their jurisdiction, for example requiring identity numbers. The comment was made that a clearly defined line across the river below the upper reaches and above which jet skis would not be permitted would seem easier to enforce, and it was said a similar simple speed limit line had been proposed before and not been adopted. It would be sometime before the river byelaws are due for review unless council members are persuaded of the need to do so sooner. MHIC was asked to consider if it was able to adopt byelaws. It was said the recent designation of a Marine Conservation Zone might be an opportunity.

Richard Titchener asked if it would help the River Bailiff if the meeting wrote to the Council suggesting it reversed the withdrawal of funding from the enforcement operation. Gerry Courtney and others felt writing was a good idea. Ben Brown said there were many calls on Council funding and it would depend on priorities. Nigel Cardy said he would not be participating as he felt education was better than regulation and people chose to use the river in different ways. A list of email addresses of those wishing to participate was collected.

Geoff Vale called for the formation of a group to protect the environment of the river.

Andrew Rudge from the MCA said Thames Coastguard closes on 4th June 2015 with some people transferring to the centre at Fareham, and mentioned three matters for attention:

New regulations for the issue of Boatmaster Licences will commence on 4th April and should make it easier to obtain them.

Evidence suggests 89 people might not have drowned had they been wearing lifejackets, which he encouraged everyone to do.

There had been several instances of steering gear failure in large vessel recently so it was sensible to give them a wide berth.

The recent prosecution following the Orca/Shoreway collision and fatality reinforces the need to keep a lookout.

General Issues

The matter of discharges from Bradwell Power Station affecting water quality was raised and Ben Brown offered to look into it if he is sent further details.

Daniel Leggett for MHIC said he had written asking for confirmation that assessment of contamination of land for the planning application for Sadd’s Wharf included consideration of runoff into the river and had received no reply. Ben Brown offered to raise the matter with the Planning Department.


Maldon Town Regatta 19th September
Blackwater Barge Match 25th July
Blackwater Sailing Club   Cadet Week 2nd to 6th August
Regatta 15th August
Club Week 16th to 21st August
Bart’s Bash Sunday 27th September
MLSC Sponsored Row 27th December
Mud Race 26th April
Triathlon 26th July
Bradwell Triathlon 17th May
Heybridge Basin Regatta 4th July
Row for a Reason 26th September

The meeting closed at 2110 with thanks to BSC for the use of the facilities.

(Notes compiled by R Titchener)
Richard Titchener, Hon. Secretary of the Maldon Barge Operators’ Group: