Agenda item

Ceredigion Harbours Management Policy Review: Consultation


Councillor Keith Henson (Cabinet Member for Highways and Environmental Services and Carbon Management) provided Committee Members with an update on the outcome of the Ceredigion Harbours Management Policy Review Consultation process. The current Ceredigion Harbours Management Policy was approved by the Council on 19 October 2010 and provided a clear, useful and appropriate framework for the delivery and management of activities at the Council’s Harbours at Aberaeron, Aberystwyth and New Quay. It was, however, now considered appropriate and timely to review and update the policy to reflect relevant changes since the Policy’s implementation and, to address any gaps between the Policy and current Harbour related activities which had been identified and/or arisen from experience. The proposed changes built on the current Policy which had served stakeholders well for over a decade. The changes recognised and reflected that the Harbours were multi-use, shared-use facilities and that the Council’s overall intention was to strengthen the Policy so they could continue to be managed in a fair, transparent and balanced way for the benefit of all stakeholders.


A draft updated Policy was prepared and, as part of the policy change process, a consultation was undertaken that provided stakeholders with an opportunity to provide their feedback. The consultation was launched on 20 September 2023 and was open until 20 October 2023, with a total of 108 responses received through the prescribed process. Feedback from outside the prescribed process was also received and noted. An overview of the feedback received was provided. Further to the feedback received through the consultation process, amendments have been incorporated into the latest draft of the new policy. As with any consultation related to any change in policy, it was not possible to respond positively to all the feedback, suggestions and comments received and there could be a direct conflict between the aims, aspirations and expectations of the different stakeholders.


Councillor Keith Henson and Gerwyn Jones, Corporate Manager- Environmental Services explained that the intention was to have an overarching policy framework that supported and facilitated the fair, consistent and transparent management of the harbours, that recognised the variety of stakeholders that make use of the facilities. It was accepted that not everyone would approve nor agree with the details and implications, however, these were Council-operated facilities and, ultimately, it was for the Council to determine how they, and the activities undertaken therein, were best managed.


Gerwyn Jones added that there had been a misunderstanding around waiting lists which had been reflected in the feedback,  and that if a boat for sale included a mooring, it could create an artificial premium. From the 108 responses, 33 had shared their views on the policy, despite stating that they had not known about its existence, therefore having a balanced approach to changes was key.


Members were provided with the opportunity to ask questions which were answered by Officers present. The main points raised were as follows:

·       Members were supportive of the removal of the transfer and inheritance rights of mooring arrangements from leisure holders from the revised policy.

·       The policy did not encompass the fees and charges and would be dealt with separately during the annual budget-setting process.

·       It was noted that the local authority owned the harbour infrastructure and the Crown Estate owned and held responsibility for the coast.

·       The Harbour Service engaged with stakeholders regularly, more so than what other service areas were able to sustain or offer. Engagement included monthly surgeries,  a biannual newsletter ‘Calm Waters’ and The Harbour Users Consultative Committee that met in March and October historically. As the Committee’s focus had evolved, a review of the Constitution would be required.

·       Historically, dredging was undertaken at Aberaeron and New Quay harbour yearly, and every 3-5 years at Aberystwyth, where the task was much greater. Consideration needed to be given to the financial situation.

·       In terms of the ‘Gunning Principles’, it was noted that there had been a clear explanation of why the changes to the policy had been presented.

·       Concerns were raised with the removal of the transfer of commercial moorings from the policy, as it was key to ensure businesses were protected given the county’s historic maritime heritage. For succession purposes, having some flexibility around the transfer of commercial moorings was key. It was noted that the transfer of moorings had been removed from the policy given feedback received over the years that there was a sense of ‘closed shop’ when it came to the waiting list.

·       There was a specific number of moorings in each of the 3 harbours and the demand varied, but generally, there was less availability in New Quay from a leisure and commercial perspective. At present, there was a limit to the number on the waiting list for both leisure and commercial moorings, but the limit would be removed in the revised policy.

·       Following a query around the admin fee linked to parking fees, it was noted that this would need to be looked into as parking permits had been removed from the mooring offer.

·       During the work currently being undertaken at Aberaeron coastal defence scheme, no free-parking provision had been arranged for harbour users.

·       Concerns were raised that mooring holders would attempt to change from leisure to commercial for inheritance purposes, however, it was noted that there were steps in place to prevent this.


The Chair explained that a letter had been sent by the Ceredigion Commercial Mooring Association, which Members and Officers had already had sight of. Members noted the letter and acknowledged the concerns raised related to the removal of the transfer of commercial moorings and the impact this could have on businesses and the succession of businesses.


In accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Public Engagement Protocol, Mr Seal attended the meeting to address the Committee on behalf of the Ceredigion Harbour Users Consultative Committee (CHUCC), a separate group to the Harbour Users Consultative Meetings facilitated by the local authority. Reference was given to the concerns noted in the minutes and the open letter sent by CHUCC to the local authority following their meeting to discuss the Harbour Management Policy.


Gerwyn Jones explained that the Harbour Service was a part of the wider Highways and Environment Service, and it operated under the Council’s Constitution, similar to other Council services.


Councillor Keith Henson extended his thanks to the Committee for their input, to Ceredigion Commercial Mooring Association for their letter and to Mr Seal for addressing the Committee. He also extended his best wishes to Gerwyn Jones as he leaves his role with the authority and he was thanked for his hard work over the years; the Chair echoed Councillor Keith Henson’s words.


Following questions by the Committee Members, it was agreed to:

i.      Note the content of the report.

ii.     Recommend to Cabinet that the latest version of the draft Ceredigion Harbour Management Policy, incorporating the amendments included following the consultation process, is approved for subsequent implementation and that all commercial boats to include fishing boats and passenger boats are permitted to sell their boats with their moorings should it be necessary and that the right of succession is maintained.


Councillor Rhodri Evans requested that the policy included the tracked changes when it was presented to the Cabinet for ease of reference.

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