Ventnor Haven loses over £100k in last year

We’ve picked through the figures to try and see where the money is going.

Annual reports for Newport Harbour and Ventnor Haven will be going to the Cabinet on Tuesday next week (8th January 2013) where officers will be seeking approval of the reports before they are sent to the Department of Transport.

As the Isle of Wight council is the official Harbour Authority for both locations, legislation requires them to submit the Reports to the Government department.

£100k+ losses at Ventnor Haven
The report for Ventnor Haven shows a turnover of £12,000 in 2011/12, but operating costs of £110,000, resulting in a net loss of £101,000.

The operating costs are broken down as ‘Supplies and Services’ totalling £81,000 and ‘Depreciation’ listed at £29,000.

Services supplied by Cheetah Marine
Cheetah Marine hold the current contract (which runs until August 2014) to manage the Haven. Their contractual duties include:

  • To provide a day to day supervision service at Ventnor haven in a safe and efficient manner.
  • To collect dues from craft using the haven and the adjacent moorings in accordance with the schedule of charges.
  • To work with the Isle of Wight Council to develop the haven and expand the range of facilities and services offered to both visitors and local users.
  • To inspect all mooring chains on a weekly basis and renew when necessary.
  • To clean the slipway, walkway and the pontoons weekly or more frequently.
  • To remove all debris from the Haven and the surrounding areas daily.

The terms of the contract were varied last year to additionally include for the removal of sea
weed at Ventnor Haven.

Trying to understand where the money goes
To try and understand the £81k charged for ‘Supplies and Services’ we went to our Armchair Auditor site, which shows all of the Isle of Wight council’s spending data over £500, but in a far easier to query form than the spreadsheets they issue it in (*Big thanks* going out to WightGeek again for his great work on the system!).

The council’s own published figures for the Ventnor Haven costs don’t reflect this, showing £54,109.08 instead.

Going directly to the money that the council has paid to Cheetah Marine over the 2011-12 period shows £89,101.75. In excess of the council’s £81k figure in the report, but closer. Currently unexplained is why payments are split between two costs centres – Ventnor Haven General (understandable) and Coastal Capital Schemes.

The currently available council spending data for the period 2012-13 shows that since then Cheetah Marine been paid £6,048.33 a month in connection to the council’s ‘Ventnor Haven General’ account.

We’ll get in touch with IWC to see if they can throw some light on this.

Ventnor Haven income
The income is broken down to ‘Moorings’ of £3,000 and ‘Rental Income’ of £9,000. Geoff Blake holds a 125 year lease on part of the Haven where he runs a well-regarded fishery and catering outlet.

Newport Harbour
Newport Harbour by comparison shows only losses of £4,000.

In 2011/12 Newport Harbour had a turnover of £193,000, but operating costs were just £167,000. With other expenses of £30,000 this leaves a net loss of £4,000.

The full reports are embedded below for your convenience.

Image: © Isle of Wight Council

Location map
View the location of this story.

Thursday, 3rd January, 2013 3:53pm



Filed under: Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Newport, Top story, Ventnor

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. luccombelad

    3.Jan.2013 7:03pm

    This harbour development stinks on all levels.

    I’ve never personally seen a vessel, other than Blakes, or Cheetah Marine boat in the harbour.

    The only organisations that have benefited from the harbour are Blakes, and Cheetah Marine. This harbour was never built to bring visiting vessels to Ventnor.

    Other than the stench of rotting seaweed how has this harbour benefited Ventnor?

    I smell a Masonic Cabal at work here.

    • I disagree – I have benefited by being able to buy super-fresh fish as well as lovely Fish and Chips and I think that they do bring people into Ventnor.

      On the cost I assume most of the overshoot is to deal with the seaweed smell problem, which was caused by the Council so it is only right that they should deal with it..

      • King of the Hill

        4.Jan.2013 7:15am

        Do you seriously think it’s acceptable for council tax payers to be funding £100,000 losses for the haven just so people can buy fish and chips?

        Do you not realise how ridiculous that sounds?

        • Of course I don’t. But I do think that if the Council build a harbour that collects seaweed that rots then they have do do something about it.

          I assume they have loaded all of the seaweed issue costs onto the Haven which is why it looks such a loss. If they just closed it the seaweed problem wouldn’t go away (unless they removed the whole harbour, which would be VERY costly) so the cost for dealing with the problem would still be there, just shoved into a different column of the Council’s accounts.

          • King of the Hill

            4.Jan.2013 11:38am

            It looks as though the seaweed problem cost about an extra £20k, so what’s your view on the other £80k of losses?

          • I can’t see where the £20k you quote comes from, but to be clear I didn’t say it was worth £100k to have fish and chips I said that having the fish operation there was a benefit. lucombelad said “Other than the stench of rotting seaweed how has this harbour benefited Ventnor?” and I was giving a benefit.

            What the accounts show is £29k is depreciation. That is usually an accounting device and does not represent a cost in this year. However that does not account for £100k.

          • King of the Hill

            4.Jan.2013 12:07pm

            The paperwork says that the previous year’s service cost was £63k, but that 2011/12 was £81k hence the £20k difference – give or take a thou.

          • I wondered that too, but the Council has been spending money on this for quite a long time – if you search OTW with “Haven seaweed” (I won’t put the url here as the comment will then go into moderation and add delay) you will find an article from July 2010 which says that the Council spent £30k in 2009/10, which didn’t solve the problem.

            As I recall, shortly after that they had a digger and lorries taking it away, so that would have been in the 2010/11 accounts and presumably cost a lot. So the £20k or so you identified is an increment for 2011/12 rather than the total cost.

            Thankfully the problem is now being kept at bay.

          • King of the Hill

            4.Jan.2013 1:08pm

            Possibly unintentional, but I think you are missing the point.

            Cheetah Marine seem to be getting paid a shed load of money and with little income to offset the costs against, council tax payers are having to footing the bill.

          • I wasn’t discussing that point at all. You may be right BUT in order to understand whether that is the case you need to strip out the costs for dealing with the seaweed problem and examine whether CM is the most economical way of doing it, and alongside it look at how the remainder is being spent.

            I was merely making two points:

            1. there is some benefit to Ventnor (though I’d never argue that it was worth £100k)
            2. If the seaweed costs are included, they are a statutary obligation of the Council and need to be taken out before judging the ongoing finances of the Haven

    • Once this summer, on a midday high tide I saw a small visiting yacht moor up in the haven and row ashore for some lunch.

      From the perspective of a sailor who knows little of the cirumstances of its construction, it does seem strange that the Haven wasn’t built just that little bit larger so that more visiting yachts and motorboats could make short visits for lunch, overnight or a stop off before the hop over to France.

  2. Close it down today. Put the 100K towards tourist information centres and lifeguards. If Geoff and Sean need the harbour, then maybe sell it to them? ( Not for a quid though! ).

  3. OOOPS, looks like this wonderful business partnership etc etc has hit the rocks quicker than a tourist Yatch trying to moor!
    Perhaps a tad too much ‘looking after a mate’ and not enough ‘How on earth was this EVER going to get tourists in?’
    Personally I don’t see how removing 50 odd parking spaces, adding an expensive fish shop, a Factory and a nice cafe whilst walling up a kiddies paddling pool and not removing rotting seaweed could have ANYTHING to do with losses like these,,, or at least I assume that this will be the finding of any enquiry! Doomed to failure from the very start in my opinion and never going to either make money or boost tourism! Another abject failure in a bad attempt to ‘regenerate’ a place that never needed ‘re-generation’,,, just sensible planning.

  4. prewitt parrot

    4.Jan.2013 4:32pm

    How is it that the harbour at Ryde has conveniently become a ‘small marina’ despite the Council having always referred to it on their website as a harbour and it having harbour staff along with 200 berths. We need figures for just how much this white elephant is costing the council tax payer as this codswallop about the Council only being a harbour authority in Ryde in respect of a pier which was demolished in the 1920’s sounds like a smoke screen to me. We need figures on the income expenditure and governance of this too as surely the Council will be more than pleased to reveal how profitable it is for us.

    • Island Monkey

      4.Jan.2013 6:10pm

      So what we know is this: The IOW council seriously mismanaged Newport Harbour – breaking the law in the process.

      The operation at Ryde Harbour is beyond a joke and they have transformed it into a marina.

      Now we learn Ventnor harbour – which cost a fortune but is totally unsuitable for visiting yachts needs £100,000 a year of our cash just to remain open, apparently so that two small businesses can operate there? One of whom seems to pay an astonishingly low rent, the other is charging the council a kings ransom for mysterious ‘services’ of some sort?

    • prewitt parrot

      4.Jan.2013 8:08pm

      According to wikipedia this was Victoria pier opened in 1864, and until 1875 it was a landing for a ferry service from Gosport but after the ferry service ceased and until its demolition was authorised in 1916 it was a a pleasure pier only.
      So if they were the harbour authority for this pier whilst it was used solely for leisure purposes how come they aren’t the harbour authority for Ryde leisure harbour? Given that not only is it in Ryde but until the construction of the present harbour the outline of the shore-end abutment of the old pier could be made out in the sea wall near the Ryde Pavilion, it is on the site as the the Victoria pier. This is all very fishy.

  5. MikeEsholt

    6.Jan.2013 10:30am

    Don’t forget the improvement to the slipway happened in 2012 as well.

    I guess you have to look at this as part of the whole. As a new-comer to Ventnor, the harbour and fisheries are a major part of the attraction of Ventnor.

    The elements that stand out about the town are the Harbour (fresh fish/crab sold off the boats and the coming and going of fishing boats), Spyglass, the Met/Metropole) and the Royal. These go some way to countering the charity shops, drunks hanging around the pubs on Pier Street & Boots, empty shops or Tattoo parlours; all reasons for not coming to Ventnor.

    So, do you want people like me coming to Ventnor? I try to spend money in the shops and restaurants, try supporting those who are trying to improve Ventnor, buy local produce, pay Council Tax and promote to those that listen in the North Island, how great it is in the Island.

    The harbour is there. As previously said, it would cost. a fortune to remove it. I don’t believe the target clients were yachts, I think it was for local fishermen who were launching off the beach. Having said that, I think it could be more inclusive for leisure craft or promoted as such. Similarly, it would have been good to make facilities for fishing off the harbour wall rather than clambering over the rocks. The fact it was badly designed or a magnet for seaweed is something that needs dealing with anyway.

    So, unless Blakes or CM are making an extraordinary amount of money (which they don’t seem to), I think £100k is not a bad RoI seen against the town as a whole. In the grand scheme if things, either DoT pay £100k or DWP pay more via benefits.

  6. As a resident of Ventnor for over 25 years and who saw how Ventnor struggled in the late 80’s I always maintained that the revival of Ventnor’s fortunes depended upon regeneration of the Seafront. As an “overner” it seemed obvious that not to invest in a “seafront shop window” would never encourage the tourist to come and spend time and money.

    With DEFRA money and local business people investing their ideas, time and funds together with excellent media coverage, the seafront has been turned into a “must go to area” for the modern day visitor. One of the major benefits has been the number of local jobs created and the income generated by these local businesses stays on the Island. The cry from some of the detractors during many of the proposals to create these businesses was “S.O.S”, Save Our Seaside……….I believe that the investment that has taken place has done just that. Each year it is noticeable that the number of visitors increase and even during the past week Boxing Day, thanks to the brave swimmers and PATCH, and New Years day saw crowds flocking to the esplanade.

    Despite what views you may have regarding the Winter Gardens the investment by the purchasers will again benefit the whole town in terms of providing jobs and quality visitors who will boost the local economy. Recent reports in the County Press re Ryde and Sandown show what happens when investment doesn’t take place.

    The design of the Haven managed to create a seaweed problem that was driving visitors away and the initial solution of Dumpsters/Diggers with all its attendant labour costs was an expensive means of dealing with the problem. That cost has obviously appeared in the report ending 31st March 2012 and is now historical. Cheetah Marine has now come up with the “Dredger Boat” method which seemingly works well and operated by one person would hopefully be less expensive over the coming years.

    What you can never quantify is the amount of money that a specific Tourist advertising drive to bring the visitors Ventnor that we now get would have cost…..maybe a part of the £100,000 is a price worth paying.

    I’m proud of being an adopted Ventnorian and of the local entrepreneurs and hope there are others out there who feel positive about the future of our delightful town. A happy and prosperous New Year to all!!

  7. There are good and valid points raised here but surely the ONLY aspect of Ventnor that will bring in tourists are the incredible views of a victorian style Esplanade whilst driving/walking down a steep and winding road, and the prospect of either walking to steephill cove or wheelers bay, or enjoying a few hours on the beach with the prospect of a cafe or restaurant to keep them there.
    Watching the Blakes launch and recover their boats from the beach was part of the experience as was the chance to grab a beer from the Mill Bay and enjoy it alfresco on the sand (shingle????). Let’s not forget the beauty of the Waterfall and watching our children paddle from Cowes or Ryde to Shanklin in the Map pool! In essence Ventnor was the Quintessential resort…. Until certain folk decided it needed a tad more development!
    Why on earth would a ‘tourist’ want to visit a shop attached to a fish factory or watch a few guys slap glass fibre on a boat hull? Last time I checked a majority of the ‘fresh fish’ was brought in by van with only the Crab and Lobsters and local seasonal fish (Bass etc) were unloaded at the factory so it is not as if we have a trawler or three sailing into the harbour to unload!
    The Seaweed was predicted AND warned about before the factory was built and, as a resident of Ventnor, I can assure you that the smell was evident well before this ‘regeneration’.
    As a keen beach fisherman, I can attest to groups of drunk children on ‘the bandstand’ or around the Arcade who frighten off any evening trade with fights and threats, making it a no-go area during some evenings.
    The reason some of us don’t like or want the ‘haven’ etc is because Ventnor didn’t need it! We had a beautiful, thriving resort until ‘those in charge’ lost interest and allowed it to crumble, followed by a couple of money grabbers who turned it into a rest home for the unemployed, homeless and benefit reliant youth in the late 90’s and early noughties!
    We have this wonderful ‘marina’ type Haven so where are the ‘trips round the bay’, the Boatmen offering day fishing trips, the Cowes crowd mooring up for a coffee or a wander around the shops? What exactly do these ‘regeneration’ projects offer either locals OR Tourist? The businessess both existed before the Haven so Jobs created doesnt really work for me, except for the Cafe staff, but what about the LOSS of jobs from the Hotel and from potential new planning applications?
    I LOVE Ventnor and want it to prosper, but silly schemes that end up costing US £100,000 are NOT a solution. Neither are building works that threaten to overpower the Esplanade by building higher and higher just to grab a few more pounds before moving on to destroy another town!
    We had Boxing Day swims etc etc before the Haven and with the help of the MillBay they were great affairs, I spent many many nights fishing from the beach without hassle and in the company of quite a few others, and have had many tourists sit with me for hours enjoying the peace and quiet. My Kids ALL took pleasure from the beach and surrounding cafes and pubs without incident So let us NOT lose sight of what Ventnor IS and always will be…. It is a Beach and infrastructure to support visitors to that beach.. it is NOT an industrial area that offers nothing but manages to take 100 grand from us!

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