The Isle of Wight council are considering shedding some of their current responsibilities at two Isle of Wight harbours.
Continuing down a path previous Conservative administrations have trod, of selling off public assets, such as Ryde Theatre, Ventnor Winter Gardens and Botanic Garden, members are being asked to approve the freehold or leasehold transfer of Ryde by way of an open marketing exercise and for the external management of Ventnor Haven to be transferred to a third party on the open market.
The Conservative administration are proposing making the decision away from the public gaze (by Delegated Decision).
As is often the case when they seek to justify selling public assets, the council are listing large costs associated with the assets.
They state the over the next ten years a revenue loss estimated at £515k and a capital investment exceeding £1.2.million to cover dredging and repair costs cannot be covered by the council.
Paying designers to find solution
One example of the costs include the ongoing removal of microalgae from Ventnor Haven – around £75,000 per annum.
As previously reported by OnTheWight, the same company who designed the haven were then commissioned to solve the problem of seaweed gathering in the harbour.
Council papers reveal that although “alternative methods of dealing with the seaweed have been explored, no viable alternative has been identified”.
Details of the plans are set out in a Delegated Decision document issued today. The recommendations read:
Agree to implement options (1), (4) and (6)
Option 1 – To offer the freehold/leasehold of Ryde harbour on the open market with a restrictive covenant that it be only used as a harbour/marina; such covenants to only be removed if an alternative use of the area could generate a significant and sustainable economic benefit to Ryde and/or the Island. Any consideration should include a reversion to allow for any future development of the seafront.
Option 4 – To offer the transfer the management of Ventnor Harbour to a third party through the open market at no cost to the council;
Option 6 – The final agreed terms of any transfer/outsourcing to a third party be to be the subject of a further delegated decision of the Cabinet Member, but where no terms are agreed then the council will continue to directly manage the harbour.
Leader: “It’s just not right”
Earlier this year when concerns were raised about the rising costs of maintaining Ventnor Harbour (£153,000 in 2016-17), Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Cllr Dave Stewart, said,
“I can assure you I have been told we absolutely have plans to deal with the Ventnor [Haven] situation and I think we should.
“I think it’s wrong, I’m not sure that people will love me now but that’s not the point. I think we actually need to sort that out, it’s just not right, so we will push hard.”
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