Members of Whitby Harbour Board say they intend to fight for the right to make decisions about the port’s future.
The review of Whitby Harbour Board conducted by the borough council concluded the board should be replaced by an Expert Advisory Group.
The most significant difference between the two bodies would be the removal of decision-making powers, instead transferring them to the council.
However, at its most recent meeting on Monday, the harbour board unanimously backed a decision to ‘fight’ for the continuation of the board.
Board member and councillor Herbert Tindall said: “I think we should fight to keep the harbour board, I think it’s worthwhile. We know it has been a learning curve but I think we have got to a position where a lot of the things we were waiting to happen are just round the corner.”
Independent board member and harbour user Tony Hornigold said he personally had a large amount of evidence to support the work done by the board.
As a semi-independent body from the borough council, the harbour board is responsible for managing its own budget. It receives income from various sources, such as harbour dues.
A significant income stream is also received through car parking charges and were the board to be re-absorbed into the council, these would be returned to the central local authority pot.
Coun Herbert Tindall said he was disappointed and upset by the report’s findings, and said any criticism of the harbour board for not completing more work during the two-year pilot period, such as an asset condition report, was unjustified. He said: “If you look at all aspects of the harbour, you can’t do that in 12 months, you can’t do it in 24 months, and I thought that had never been investigated properly and I was a little bit disturbed.”
The report was compiled by the Environment and Economy Scrutiny Committee, headed up by Coun Jane Mortimer. The committee concluded the best aspects of the board should be retained, but decisions would be made by the council’s portfolio holder.
Harbour board chair Coun Mike Cockerill said he was not surprised by this conclusion, but added: “While everybody wants to work for the good of the harbour, it’s felt it could be more positive if they could also take decisions.”