EM MAY 2023

Printable pdf  Minutes Extraordinary Meeting 23 May 2023
MINUTES – EXTRAORDINARY MEETING, Tuesday, 23 May 2023, at 7.00 pm.
G Courtney (Chairperson)
D Patient (Vice Chairperson)
N Cardy
M Chapman
Jim Dines
John Dines
P Ellum
N Harrisson
C Swann
A Wiseman

Apologies for absence were received from M Gibson.

N Cardy, Landbreach, operator of Viking Saga would leave the room when relevant.
Jim Dines, 12 pax barge which may or may not operate this year, but would next year.  He stated that he would pay whatever the Commercial Vessels Harbour Dues that the meeting decided.

N Cardy asked when the changes would come into effect.  He then presented points and questions as follows:-
a)         A review of Viking Saga operations.
b)         When would changes come into effect?
c)         Other sites/marinas etc outside Maldon Harbour.
d)         Questioned what was said at the meeting between G Courtney and Topsail.  G Courtney assured the meeting that this had been reported back in full at the previous MHIC meeting.
e)         Topsail operated during 2020 (Covid) when Harbour Dues were waived.  Were other operators given a year free subsequently?
f)          Was an Extraordinary Meeting discussed with Topsail?
g)         Meeting with all commercial operators?
h)        Questioned the need for an arbitrator.
i)          Legality of charging dues on passenger numbers.
N Cardy then left the meeting (Declaration of Interest).
G Courtney reviewed the written submissions from the commercial operators regarding an equitable levy of commercial passenger Harbour Dues.  The points they had been asked to address were: the advantages of using passenger numbers; the disadvantages of using passenger numbers; the advantages of using tonnage; the disadvantages of using tonnage; any other suggestions for achieving the aim.
All five commercial operators had responded to the MHIC request sent out on 29 April 2023.
Copies of these responses had been provided to Commissioners prior to the meeting.

Jim Dines reviewed his spreadsheet which illustrated the differences to operators between Harbour Dues on pax or tonnage.  The figures excluded food and drink.  He concluded that there was little disparity between charges on tonnage or passengers.
There was discussion of this topic.  Commissioners’ consideration included number of trips, the variation in the number of passengers ie trip not full, and limit to the number of trips as a result of weather.  The discussion examined a wide range of scenarios and indications were that there was little difference between tonnage and pax.  Sales of food and drink would drive down the percentage paid in Harbour Dues per trip.
It was noted that Ipswich Harbour now charge £40 in and out.
Jim Dines suggested commercial operators should be given a choice between tonnage and pax.  G Courtney reiterated the legal advice that if similar boats were on different rates, at some point in the future it could be deemed unfair.  P Ellum stated that the current Harbour Act had widened the remit to include tonnage or pax.
D Patient had reviewed the responses from the commercial operators and made some calculations which, similarly to Jim Dines’, indicated little difference between tonnage and pax.  There was further discussion on applying dues fairly and equitable.
G Courtney suggested setting a limit of 70 tons plus 50% discount for small (ie max 12 pax) barges.  N Harrisson suggested 70 or 80 ton as a fixed value.  Jim Dines would revise his spreadsheet on the basis of a 70 ton ceiling and suggested that barge operators should provide a written agreement should choices be offered.  P Ellum reviewed the historical background to rates of Harbour Dues and considered rates of passenger fares.  P Ellum proposed that dues should be on passenger numbers.  D Patient pointed out the difficulties of identifying/counting everyone coming on board a short-trip vessel eg Viking Saga.
G Courtney reviewed the options for voting.
a)         Proposal – to keep the status quo, ie unchanged Harbour Dues arrangements.
Proposed N Harrisson        Seconded D Patient
For – none                Against – unanimous.
b)         Proposal – to use tonnage with an upper limit of 70 tons plus 50% discount for vessels operating at 12 or less pax.
Proposed N Harrisson        Seconded G Courtney
For – 1 person          Against – 8

c)         Proposal – commercial operators to choose either on pax or as Proposal b) above to use tonnage with an upper limit of 70 tons plus 50% discount for vessels operating at 12 or less pax and to sign up for 2 years in the first instance.
Proposed – Jim Dines         Seconded – John Dines
For – 7            Against – 1                Abstain – 1
d)         Proposal – to charge on passenger numbers
Proposed – P Ellum                        Seconded – D Patient
For – 1            Against – 8
Motion c) was carried.
It was AGREED that commercial operators choose either on pax or to use tonnage with an upper limit of 70 tons plus 50% discount for vessels operating at 12 or less pax, and to sign up for 2 years in the first instance.

5          RATES OF HARBOUR DUES 2023 – 2024
It was proposed to keep Commercial Harbour dues rates the same and to review them for next year 2024 – 2025.  It was AGREED (unanimous) to keep Commercial Harbour dues rates the same and to review them for next year 2024 – 2025.

The Chairperson closed the meeting at 8.20 pm