John Corby has been Chairman of the Cowes Harbour Advisory Committee (CHAC) since last May and here he talks about the CHAC and its relevance to all who live and work in our harbour.
“I’m John Corby, I’ve lived in Cowes since 1982 and spent almost all that time designing and building yachts. I’m absolutely passionate about Cowes, the harbour, and the whole lifestyle here. I became a Town Councillor four years ago and volunteered to join the Advisory Committee a year after that.
“I should explain that the Advisory Committee is made up of representatives from many groups associated with the harbour and represents these harbour groups to Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC). For example, the yacht clubs are represented, the commercial users, Red Funnel, East Cowes Town Council, the County Council, Medina Mariners, Cowes Business Association (CBA) and so on.
“Outside of the Harbour Advisory Committee, I don’t think there is any other forum where all these stakeholders meet. In fact, there is no better group of people representing the harbour to CHC.
“The really key thing that we do is to facilitate the communication between Commissioners and harbour users. Harbour users include people who make a living out of the harbour and those living by the harbour, and there are hundreds of people whose livelihoods depend on this harbour.
“The Commissioners use the Advisory Committee as a sounding board on harbour matters and we are there to raise any concerns put forward by harbour groups. If you think how in a big company shareholders can hold directors to account for their activities, in a similar way the Advisory Committee carries out much the same function on behalf of harbour users with the CHC Commissioners.
“If readers have any issues, or ideas to put forward for the harbour, they should get in touch with me, or any other member of the Advisory Committee. Talk to us and we will voice your concerns and put your suggestions to CHC at our next meeting.
“When I took over as Chairman last May, the subject that everybody was stopping me in the street to talk about was the harbour taxis. CHC isn’t actually liable for the water taxis, but with this being a top concern for Advisory Committee members and their groups, we exerted some polite pressure and they have stepped in to make sure there is a service, so there was a good result there.
“Looking through the agenda from our last meeting, we discussed Destination Cowes, a new organisation promoting Cowes via Visit Isle of Wight, and groups such as the Council, the CBA and the Harbour Commission are all making contributions. We looked at ongoing developments and updated members with what’s going on in East Cowes, whether it’s Victoria Quay or Red Funnel, or West Cowes and Medina Yard.
“Launch access too, for if and when the marina in East Cowes gets built, that’s the project lead by the Homes and Communities Agency. There’s going to be a few moorings that have to be moved to the south side of the Floating bridge, and the Island Sailing Club pontoon launch doesn’t go there. These things are all vital, need discussing and resolving, and local residents and harbour users all need reassurance that their concerns are actually being talked about.
“Another recent item on the Advisory Committee agenda has been the protection of waterfront marine employment sites in Cowes and East Cowes. Marine employment is very important to me, and to other CHAC members who share my concerns relating to the potential loss of marine jobs and factory space.
“We are working proactively with CHC, whose strategic policies fully support the sustainable retention and development of waterfront marine employment sites, to get the Council and other key parties to address the critical issue of protecting maritime industries on the Island.
“Everything about the Advisory Committee is on the CHC website, including the Minutes. If somebody thinks that they speak for a group of people that aren’t represented on our Committee, then it’s vital that they come and talk to me because we want to include as many groups of users as possible. If people want to contact me directly, I’m entirely happy with that and I’m very easy to get hold of via email.”