Council to terminate its own harbour board

Whitby harbour
Whitby harbour

Whitby Harbour Board is set to be disbanded within the next fortnight because of “lack of progress” and “tension” between members.

The pilot project, set up in 2010 to run as an arms length subsidiary of the borough council, will be replaced by a Ports Development Group.

A scathing report being considered by the leader of the borough council next week, recommends “termination” of the harbour board - made up of borough councillors and co-opted members and that the council takes control of the harbour back.

Two reviews outlined “deep-rooted”problems with the board’s lack of progress over the last five years in coming up with a business plan, internal conflict between the council and independent members and that sub groups have not met for over two years.

The report says: “There has been a repeated tendency for the board to get involved in harbour operational matters, whilst neglecting to spend time on the bigger strategic picture.”

Wranglings between members over irrelevant issues such as car parking prices instead of the overall future have also taken their toll. The document adds: “There remains a lack of clarity about the defined status and purpose for the harbour board and a tendency for the independent members to pull in a different direction to the council, especially over the extent and use of the board’s assets and its powers.”

Out of the three objectives set at the outset which were to create a Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the management and development of activities in Whitby harbour, identify and evaluate assets and create a strategic business plan - only the identification of assets has been completed.

If disbanding the harbour board goes through, the Ports Development Group, headed by Cllr Mike Cockerill, will be established next month and the members decided and appointed between October and December with a first meeting expected in January.