This month we would like to update you on the Outer Harbour Project, share a summary of our Annual Report but first here’s an insight into how this year’s Round the Island Race impacts on Cowes Harbour Commission’s operation.
Record breaking year for the Round the Island Race
In the year that this famous sailing race celebrated its 80th anniversary, it also attracted a record number of entries. A total of 1908 yachts, of all shapes and sizes, made up the starting fleet of which 1303 managed to successfully circumnavigate the Isle of Wight in extremely challenging conditions.
That made it a challenging weekend for the team at Cowes Harbour Commission which has two key responsibilities, firstly the safety of all the participants whilst they are in our area and secondly to ensure that Cowes can accommodate all of our visitors over the weekend.
“It’s a fact that many sailors taking part in the event are probably unaware of the pre-planning and co-operation that enables a fleet of nearly 2000 yachts to start off Cowes within a couple of hours. It’s certainly a credit to the level of co-operation and goodwill that the race organisers have created”, commented Harbour Master Stuart McIntosh.
He continued; “The Island Sailing Club do a marvellous job in managing the event and have developed an excellent working relationship with the various Solent harbour and port authorities. It is this co-operation and assistance that is vital to enable an event of this size to take place safely within the confines of the Solent with its competing commercial shipping interests.”
For example ABP Southampton arrange for the main shipping lanes to be closed during the start period. Major cruise ships and container vessels are asked to bring forward or delay their expected time of arrival and departure. It’s all achieved with the minimum of fuss, but does require very good planning. The co-operation of the shipping companies that agree to adjusting their arrival and departure times with often cost implications is greatly appreciated by the harbour authorities and the Island Sailing Club but again is probably not widely known by the competing crews.
In addition to the advanced planning, the Harbour Masters from Cowes, Southampton and Q.H.M Portsmouth are on the starting platform to support and advise the Island Sailing Club’s race management team whilst CHC’s large patrol vessel SeaMark helps to clear a safe passage for the Red Funnel ferries.
“I would certainly like to take this opportunity of passing on my personal thanks and that of my fellow Harbour Commissioners appreciation to the Solent Harbour Master’s for their support and also to the shipping companies that all work together to make this a fantastic yachting event,” concluded Stuart.
To read the full story of CHC’s behind the scenes involvement in this year’s Round the Island Race visit the Cowes.co.uk website.
Working together delivers results
The Annual Report summarises the activity of Cowes Harbour Commission over the past 12 months as well as setting out its vision and plans for the future. During the previous year CHC has continued to put significant emphasis and resources in looking at the way we operate with the aim of improving the efficiency and productivity of our services.
We want to take our team with us, ensuring joint consultation, driving change and encouraging ownership for delivering quality customer focused marine services. We are continuing our efforts to improve our communication with harbour users and stakeholders and probably more important to listen and encourage active discussion and consultation.
In summary, the report highlighted that Cowes Harbour Commission:
• Achieved an operating surplus to facilitate future investment
• Diversified income to further reduce dependence on harbour dues
• Secured planning consents for the Outer Harbour Project
• Successfully established the new Advisory Committee
• Improved dialogue with all stakeholders
“These results were achieved with strict management control on expenditure and the positive effect of the new management structure. The generally poor economic climate will continue to have an impact on 2011, although the welcome news of the return of a headline sponsor for Cowes Week is a positive sign”, commented CHC Chairman Roger Mathias.
The 2010/2011 Report was presented at the annual Public Meeting held on 23rd May and is available to download in full from our website together with the Annual Accounts for 2010.
Cowes Outer Harbour Project
We updated you on the Outer Harbour Project (OHP) last October with the very good news that the project had received its formal planning consent from the Isle of Wight Council. We also provided an update in our March E newsletter and the Annual Report.
The impact of the Government’s changes to the organisation of regional economic development has now become evident and we know that our funding partner SEEDA will no longer exist after 31st March 2012. As SEEDA were providing a third of the overall funding (together with CHC and the private sector marina developer) this creates an unhelpful degree of uncertainty.
The Government and SEEDA have confirmed today (8th July) that the majority of the SEEDA owned land on the Island and project assets will be transferred to the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) and then delivered under a local “stewardship model”.
SEEDA have indicated to us that the Outer Harbour Project would be transferred as a ‘live project’ when the East Cowes land assets are transferred to the HCA which is encouraging news.
Grant funding challenges
It is inevitable that Government grant funding for regional development and enterprise will be significantly reduced and we anticipate that greater prioritisation will be given to projects that provide immediate job creation. This could be to the detriment of projects that will deliver growth to regional and local economies in the long-term, such as the OHP.
CHC does have a Memorandum of Understanding with SEEDA in which both parties would contribute up to £2.3 million towards the delivery of the OHP infrastructure (the detached breakwater, extension to Shrape Breakwater & Eastern Channel). We will endeavour to maintain this funding commitment through positve engagement with the HCA, stressing the long-term economic and social benefits of the harbour project.
OHP remains our No 1 priority!
The Commissioners must now await the policy decision from the Government on the future of the SEEDA’s land assets, projects and future grant funding. In the meantime, we have been carrying out a major review of contingency options for both the funding and delivery of the Outer Harbour Project. Work has started on reviewing all the options in further detail to determine the viability, issues and merits of each of those identified.
At a recent meeting of the Commission, it was unanimously agreed that the delivery of the harbour infrastructure and new breakwater is the single most important issue for the long-term prosperity of the harbour. Whilst accepting there will be inevitable delays, we remain resolute that the OHP can and will be delivered along with the resulting positive benefits to Cowes, East Cowes and the economy of the Isle of Wight.
We will ensure that you are kept fully informed.
WILL YOUR LIFEJACKET WORK!
Recreational boating should be fun, but the safety of your crew is of paramount importance. Responsible owners will have a lifejackets on board for all crewmembers but when were they last serviced?
To facilitate the annual checking of these vital pieces of safety equipment, SeaSafe, a renowned manufacturer of marine safety products are establishing a U.K wide series of service points to which you can take your lifejacket. This service is being introduced in Cowes at Shepard’s Wharf Marina, so call in for information and drop in your lifejackets for that vital service check.
Please keep in touch!
Don’t forget that Cowes Harbour Commission is always happy to gain feedback on its services and on the issues it is tackling on your behalf. If you want to talk to the Harbour Master, Capt. Stuart McIntosh or to Rod Hodgson, the Deputy HM, please feel free to call into the Harbour Office on Town Quay, or phone and make an appointment on Tel: 01983 293 952, or email email@example.com.
Cowes Harbour Commission also owns and operates the following commercial services: Shepards Wharf Marina, Kingston Marine Services, Cowes Harbour Moorings and Cowes Harbour Fuels.