River Safety March 2014

 

NOTES OF THE 5TH ANNUAL JOINT RIVER SAFETY MEETING HELD ON THURSDAY 13 MARCH 2014 AT THE BLACKWATER SAILING CLUB

Present

Peter Garrett (Countryside,   Coast and Leisure Team Leader. MDC)  
John Hughes   (Clerk, MHIC) J Robinson (Osea   Leisure Park)
Julie Stuchbery   (Clerk, MHIC) Nigel Harmer   (River Bailiff, MDC)
Paul Bartlett   (Essex Police) Andrew Rudge   (Marine Coastguard Agency)
Vaughn High   (Essex Police) Paul Jeffries   (MBOG)
Gerry Courtney   (MHIC) Kevin Burtonshaw   (SB Kitty)
Jim Dines (MHIC) Richard Titchener   (MBOG & Sea Change)
Ian Hiner (MHIC) Derek Fox (MBSA)
Joe Leary   (Blackwater SC) Mike Bentley   (Maldon Little Ship Club)
Richard Pusey   (Blackwater SC) Pat White (Maldon   YC)
Geoff Wass   (Blackwater SC) John Green   (Maldon YC)
Peter Boss (BSBMA   &Thames Sailing Barge Trust Hazel Green   (Maldon YC)
Nigel Cardy   (MHIC) Pauline Marshall   (Maldon YC)
C Varley (AOB) Mandy Chapman   (Stone Watersports Club)
G Everiss   (Goldhanger SC) Victoria Long   (Stone Watersports Club)
Kevin Finch   (Marigold Charters) Clint Swann   (MHIC)
C Downie (Osea   Leisure Park) Harley Swann (CRS   Marine)

Apologies  Nancy Harrisson (Chairman MHIC), Alan Cheshire (MHIC), Nick Hayward (East Coast Sailing Trust)

The meeting was chaired by Peter Garrett, Countryside, Coast and Leisure Team Leader, Maldon District Council.  The meeting was attended by 33 people with 3 Apologies.

1.      Welcome and Introductions

Peter Garrett welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked the Blackwater Sailing Club for providing the venue.  He introduced the new Clerk to the Commissioners, the police representatives, the Maldon Harbour Improvement Commissioners, Nigel Harmer River Bailiff, Andrew Rudge Marine Coastguard Agency and Richard Titchener Maldon Barge Operators Group.

Peter Garrett addressed items from the last meeting:-

a)      Osea Road – MMO now regards this matter as closed.

b)      Port Marine Safety Code – was circulated and published on the MHIC website last year.

c)      Marine Conservation Zone – Clacton Cliffs and Foreshore, Mixed Intertidal Sediments, Native Oysters and Native Oyster beds.  The various statutory agencies such as the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority are working on Action Plans to tackle the issues arising from the designations.

Returning to the Agenda, Peter Garrett emphasised that this meeting was the opportunity to ask and to speak about all river safety matters.

2.      Essex Police Marine Unit

DI Paul Bartlett and DS Vaughn High from Special Branch introduced the new arrangements.  DI Bartlett explained that the Marine Police function was now part of the Counter Terrorism Unit and that the Unit had not been disbanded.  Their remit covered “everything that flies and floats” in Essex excepting the airports.  This includes marinas from both land and water side.  There is a patrol strategy and they will provide a visible presence.  Officers are on duty seven days a week with a RIB and a launch also available.  DI Bartlett emphasised that they will visit local organisations.

Questions and discussion followed.

Stone Watersports Club thanked them for the swift response to an incident last year.

Richard Titchener (MBOG) asked about coverage of issues such as speeding.  DI Bartlett explained that the procedure is to contact the Police.  Speeding is a byelaw offence.  Peter Garrett identified the on-going need for education at the camp sites as it is a District council byelaw.  MDC will prosecute but need evidence.  These issues fall within the River Bailiff’s remit.  Stone Watersports Club explained that jet skis have a clearly marked unique registration.  SWC will take action with identified offenders.  They asked that people contact them if there are any problems with their club members.  Nigel Harmer (River Bailiff) said that jet skis behaving as a nuisance have been prosecuted under the Byelaws and added that this included dangerous navigation as well as speeding.

3.      Flood Prevention

Peter Garrett explained that MDC practise the procedures under its Emergency Plan.  There is a “gold command” team who organise measures such as evacuation.  In the recent surge, MDC staff visited those most at risk door-to-door on the morning of the predicted surge.  On the 5 December, the District escaped lightly.  Procedures worked well but MDC will add some improvements based on feedback from staff, the emergency services and the local community who were evacuated.

Peter Garrett asked if there were any marina/boatyard issues.  Ian Hiner (MHIC) identified the need for a specific person with local knowledge to assist the police with, for example, identifying property owners.

4.      Hythe Quay

Peter Garrett explained that 35 m had collapsed, accelerated by the surge.  On 20 February 2014, at Full Council, money was secured to meet the repairs.  The operation will include structural engineers drawing up plans, MDC liaising with their tenants, consideration of electricity, lighting and water supplies, planning consent, obtaining consents from MMO, Natural England, the Environment Agency  and the County Archaeologist amongst other requirements and stakeholders.  The entire Quay structure had to be addressed, for example there were voids under the concrete.  On completion there will be a continuous wall up to the Visitors’ pontoon.  They are aiming for completion in the autumn.

Gerry Courtney (MHIC) asked about the effect on events.  Peter Garrett explained that MDC has no more funds for other things and the Maldon Regatta and other events normally held on the Quay could not be held there this year.  Also, there would be no more berths available for the Barge Match.  The Council will be exploring options to help with the situation, such as removing more mud from the front of the Visitor Pontoon.

5.         Buoy Opposite Stansgate/Marconi SC

Nigel Cardy (MHIC) said that the Commissioners felt that it had moved.  Nigel Harmer (River Bailiff) said that Marconi SC have altered their moorings, moving back into their designated area.  This alters the appearance of the location.  Peter Garrett said that the GPS co-ordinates were as before but that the matter would be discussed with the Inspector of Sea Marks.

6.      Incidents

John Hughes (Clerk) stated that the Port Marine Safety Code requires incident reporting.

Jim Dines (MHIC) added that there had been two buoys that had been involved in a collision with a vessel and had become detached from their mooring last year and emphasised the need for reporting, using the telephone contacts in the Port Marine Safety Code, as neither of these incidents had been reported to MHIC.

There was a discussion of the potential conflict between racing and barge operation.  It was said that it would be valuable for cadets and their sailing club officer to continue to meet the barge owners to continue the improvement in cadet sailing behaviour.

Racing incidents have been investigated by the BSC.

7.      General Safety Issues

Paul Jeffries (MBOG) has spoken to the cadets and reported a positive reaction to an improved understanding of respect for the barges, racing is not an excuse.  Nigel Cardy (MHIC) – things a lot better.  Peter Garrett – things continue to improve.  Stone Watersports Club – advocated clubs working together.  Peter Boss (BSBMA) – praised safety boats.

The issue of visibility of swimmers was raised.  Nigel Harmer (River Bailiff) will advise the use of high visibility swim hats.  (Post meeting note:  Some sponsorship has been arranged for clubs swimming in open water and a manufacturer is to supply Hi Viz swim hats.)

It was also noted that vessels waiting to enter the Lock at Heybridge Basin continue to wait in the fairway, which was not helpful.

8.      General Issues for Discussion

i)       Updates from MBOG, MHIC and the Council.

MBOG       Covered by previous discussions, mainly the Quay.

MHIC         Signed up to Marine Watch.

There will shortly be an additional new unlit buoy off the Promenade.  The new buoy will be a port hand mark on the south side of the channel, between buoys 15 and 17 to identify the sweep in the river for river users without local knowledge.

There has been a meeting with Fiberweb and other operators on the Causeway industrial estate, at night time, regarding light pollution from the Blackwater Trading Estate. They will adjust the angles of some of the lights.  There are already improvements and the matter is ongoing.

A navigational leaflet is under development.  There will be a chartlet showing the navigation marks and the channel and the riverside and town facilities will be listed.  It will be sent to local yacht clubs as well as on the Continent, on the web-site, and on the tourism web-site.  Nigel Harmer offered to have it translated into Dutch.

John Hughes (Clerk, MHIC) added that the MHIC website had been upgraded and populated with a lot more information.  He added that the email address – clerk@mhic.org.uk – should be used for all contact.

MDC               Peter Garrett addressed the confusion over the colour on the marker at the Promenade.  It now has a yellow cross, instead of a red topmark and is now less likely to be confused with other types of red navigation buoys.

ii)      Events for Information

Stone Watersports Club – National Waterski race, 26-27 April 2014.  A European race with approximately 30 – 40 speedboats.  Same course as last year

Nigel Cardy – there had been some suggestion that Radio Caroline would be moored in the Blackwater, but this was unlikely to be this end of the river due to water depth.

Barts Bash – 21 September 2014 is under planning, mass start of hundreds of boats from Osea Pier as well as other start lines around the UK.

Barge Match – 21 June 2014

Maldon Regatta – 27 September 2014

Blackwater SC Cadet Week – first week in August.

MCA – June 2015, Thames Coastguard shutdown, then aerial moves to Fareham.  Comment – Life jackets should be worn as per the instructions on the jacket including a requirement that the crotch strap must be fixed where provided.

Maritime Labour Convention has been ratified.

The Meeting closed at 9.10 pm