Harbour fees to rise by 5%

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A DECISION to increase fees in Whitby harbour by 5% has had to be retaken after a previous vote was declared invalid.

At a meeting of Whitby Harbour Board on Monday 14 January, members had voted to raise harbour dues and mooring charges by almost double the rate of inflation prompting anger from skippers and pleasure boat owners.

However, the decision was not binding as there were not enough members of the harbour board there at the meeting to form a quorum – the minimum number of members required to take a decision, which for the harbour board is four including three borough councillors.

And so, at a special meeting of Whitby Harbour Board a week last Thursday, members had to re-consider a report by the borough harbour master Captain Ian Vasey on the scale of fees and charges for Whitby harbour.

The decision to raise fees was a close call as members of the board were split on how much to how much to increase the fees by.

Board member Edwin Black proposed a 4% increase which he felt would lessen the impact on harbour users and would be a more suitable compromise.

His proposal was backed by Coun Herbert Tindall.

Mr Black said: “Five per cent just because we can, is not necessarily the way to do it.”

During the meeting members heard that Whitby was one of the cheaper marinas on the east coast for berthing and that a number of them further along the coast have seen an increase in charges including Newcastle’s Royal Quays where fees have risen by 5.7% and at Hull which has also increased fees by 5%.

It was also pointed out that the revenue budget for the harbour was currently being supported during 2012/13 and 2013/14 by a £100,000 contribution from the council’s general fund and that during the next 12 months the board would have to identify ways of increasing income and, or reduce expenditure budgets to ensure that when this funding was no longer available, that a balanced revenue budget could still be set.

Any additional income that could be generated now could start to offset this.

Couns John Flinton and Mike Cockerill who is chairman of Whitby Harbour Board, voted against the 4% rise and proposed the board go with the 5% recommendation which led to a split vote.

As chairman, Coun Cockerill made the casting vote in favour of a 5% rise.

He said: “The work that has to be done in the harbour is hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“I fully support 5%. A smaller increase this year, is only delaying the inevitable.”

Reacting to the news, Jon Whitton, skipper of the Never Can Tell A and vice chairman of Whitby Harbour Users Group, said: “The harbour users are extremely disappointed about it.

“If they had if they had decided on 4% that would have mitigated it some extent but Mike Cockerill was determined.

“From 1996 to 2012, harbour dues increased by 60% during that period.

“Inflation was at 51% during the same period.

“We are being asked to pay for years and years of neglect.

“Scarborough Borough Council has never had a maintenance policy, now the place is falling down.

“There’s always the possibility people will take their boats elsewhere.”