Town wants its harbour back

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WHITBY Town Council is compiling a portfolio of assets it hopes to wrestle back from Scarborough Borough Council in the near future.

Councillors are planning to propose the day-to-day operation of Whitby Harbour be transferred to the town council, which believes local administration would be beneficial to the whole town.

“Parish councils have been given this ability to apply for their assets back,” said Coun Phil Trumper at WTC’s Harbour Committee meeting on Wednesday.

“We could start again and look at a way of formulating a proper harbour board for the benefit of Whitby.

“Other towns do it very well and have become very successful.”

Other assets that could be transferred include the old Town Hall or public toilets and the town council is drawing up a full list that it intends to pass to SBC’s Asset Transfer Unit.

At present, income from the car parks surrounding the harbour is not currently allocated for reinvestment in Whitby Harbour but goes to a cen-

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tral pot.

“The car parks alone would pay for all the repairs we need,” added Coun Trumper.

“We would be able to afford to run it because the harbour generates income and instead of spending that on other areas we would spend it on the harbour.”

Coun Ian Havelock agreed that proceeds from car parking around the harbour – he stated that the net profit from Endeavour Wharf last year was approximately £2 million – could go a long way to improving the harbour.

However, he added that the borough council is unlikely to voluntarily give away such a valuable revenue stream.

“It would have considerable implications but I have absolutely no realistic belief that they will let us own it,” he said.

“It’s more in hope than anticipation but I don’t think we could do any worse than they do.

“If the full council were to agree to this as an item to put on the list, it would be a serious proposal.

“But I’m sure it would get turned down because a very high proportion of that income is seen to be vital to the economy of the whole borough.”

The concept of Community Asset Transfer has arisen due to the Coalition Government’s approach to devolving power to communities and neighbourhoods, detailed in the Localism Act, 2011, and is a part of the Big Society project.

If the town council was unable to secure the entire harbour, the Harbour Committee elected that they should then pursue smaller area of frontage such as Tate Hill Sands, Endeavour Wharf or the Drying Pontoon, near Coates Marine.

Coun Havelock explained that this would allow the council to provide greater access to the harbour for local people.

The Borough Council is currently consulting on the draft Community Asset Transfer Plan and the closing date for responses is Friday 7 September.

The proposal is not just open to local authorities but also charitable organisations who may want to acquire assets. A public consultation is taking place on 29 August at the Green Lane Centre between 9.30am and 11.30am.