Plans for the future of Bideford harbour

The harbour board working group tried to reassure a worried crowd they are not introducing mooring charges in Bideford

A MESSAGE of reassurance was given to a packed crowd at a meeting of the Bideford Harbour Board working group on Thursday.

Around 100 users of the estuary filled Bideford Town Hall after rumours circulated that Torridge District Council would be introducing mooring charges.

Councillor Barry Parsons, Leader of the council and working group chairman, emphasised: “I will not allow this council to move forward without consulting the public. I will not be the leader of a council that does not listen to members of the public.”

The community and resources committee decided last week that a harbour strategy should be devised to determine its future and that of the estuary.

The working group agreed that the strategy should take an holistic approach and look at every aspect of the estuary, from the river itself to the land-based developments and bigger plans, such as the Atlantic Array.

Once a strategy is in place, the council may then considered applying for a harbour revision order.

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Councillor Peter Christie reminded the group that the waters of Northam were protected from mooring charges under an order made in 1716.

However, the strategy will consider whether mooring charges should be introduced to the surrounding areas such as Bideford harbour.

Solicitor Robin Dewreede said: “The alternative is we push ahead with a harbour revision order which will end in an inquiry and will be even more work. Hopefully people will see that councillors are listening to your views.”

Ricky McCormack, the council’s head of operational services, said: “We have to consider the short term and the long term, and give stakeholders an opportunity to have their say.”

Although the harbour working group has no decision-making powers, tit can make recommendations to the council.

Mr Parsons promised to proceed with openness towards the public, and concluded: “I promise you this is a priority. We need to look at this and take action.”

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