Council boss answers pier meeting questions

Questions were left unanswered after a public meeting into Gorleston Pier and the closure of its car park. In an open letter to the Mercury, the managing director of Great Yarmouth Borough Council Richard Packham moved to tackle the queries head on.

“AT the recent public meeting in Gorleston Pavilion I promised to look into three specific issues raised during the meeting.

The first was an allegation by Mr John Cooper that Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC) had used land not in their ownership or control as security against a bank loan.

The statutory accounts lodged for GYPC show they have a business loan from Barclays Bank and that, as is usual, the bank has taken legal change by way of security to protect its loan. A notice of this change is registered at Companies House.

Attached to the change notice is a schedule of all the land areas covered by the change. The schedule only indicates land in which GYPC has a legally chargeable interest such as freehold or long leasehold. It does not include any land in which GYPC does not have such an interest. In particular wharves that were not transferred to GYPC either by freehold or leasehold are not covered by the change.

GYPC has provided me with a set of plans showing the physical areas covered by the change, which makes it somewhat easier to understand the schedule, although the scale of the plan is quite small and may, therefore, contain minor mapping/scaling variations.

However, any such discrepancies are a matter for the bank rather than the council. If anyone wishes to view the Notice of change schedule and plans, this can be arranged by contacting Tracey Knight, the Director’s PA on 01493 846301.

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The second was a question about responsibility for roads maintenance in the South Denes.

Norfolk County Council, as the Highways Authority, is responsible for all roads within this area except the stretch of South Beach Parade from the gate in front of EastPort’s offices (just beyond Hartman Road) to the new turning circle by the spending beach. That stretch now forms part of the port’s operational infrastructure and therefore it will be maintained by EastPort.

The third was about clarifying the legal position regarding public access to quays. The borough council has always accepted that public rights of access exist along both sides of the River Yare since the Port and Haven Acts of 1835 and 1866 made it an offence to obstruct a ten foot strip of land next to the river.

However, the Port Authority Act 1990 allowed Great Yarmouth Port Authority to close sections of quayside – either permanently or temporarily – should port-related activities place the public in danger or hinder the safe and efficient operation of the port.

A plan accompanies the 1990 Act and shows sections of quay, in one of three colours – yellow denoting operational quayside closed to the public; pink denoting land that can be closed should it become operational and green denoting a public right of way that can be closed temporarily.

On the Gorleston side of the river there are no areas south of the Lifeboat Station that are coloured on the 1990 plan. We believe, therefore, that the 1835 and 1866 Acts apply and public access is available along a strip, ten foot wide, immediately adjacent to the quayside/river wall. This would not include the pier car park. We have also checked the Definitive Map of Public Rights of Way but there are none recorded over the car park.

If anyone wishes to view either map, this can be arranged by contacting Stephen Shepherd in our planning team on 01493 846534.”