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Former Yarmouth MP’s outer harbour call

PUBLISHED: 16:00 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 17:01 17 February 2011

Tony Wright, former MP for Great Yarmouth, at County Hall for the outer harbour scrutiny committee meeting.

Tony Wright, former MP for Great Yarmouth, at County Hall for the outer harbour scrutiny committee meeting.

©Archant Photographic 2011

FORMER Great Yarmouth MP Tony Wright has questioned an outer harbour chief’s pledge to be more open with the public about the Yarmouth outer harbour project.

"Clearly, there are issues that need to be addressed in terms of transparency and communication issues.”"

Tony Wright

Last week, Eliza O’Toole, chief executive of harbour operators International Port Holdings (IPH), promised to be more open through the formation of a new community and marine liaison committee.

However, her pledge at a Norfolk County Council scrutiny committee meeting has come under scrutiny of its own as it emerged the public and press were not able to attend the committee’s meetings.

But Mr Wright said he did not even know who was a member of the newly-formed committee and did not feel harbour chiefs provided satisfactory answers to questions over the way the project was handled.

Former port welfare officer and harbour critic John Cooper asked a number of questions over the handling of the outer harbour to a county council scrutiny committee.

He added: “The issues were raised but I am not so sure all of the questions were answered in terms of what was required at that particular time.

“Clearly, there are issues that need to be addressed in terms of transparency and communication issues.”

He said if the operators were going to be transparent and open then meetings could not be held behind closed doors, adding: “In actual fact, who are the people who sit on this liaison body? It is no good saying ‘don’t be criticising the outer harbour’ but the fact is people should be coming up with the answers to these questions.”

Mr Wright, who attended the scrutiny meeting, said the harbour operators also told him they would create a car park close to the Pleasure Beach in South Denes so people could view ships coming in. However, this proposal never came to fruition.

He told the County Hall hearing he was concerned harbour owners EastPort UK had lost goodwill among the public by shutting Gorleston South Pier car park on safety grounds, leaving people unable to view ships arriving at the port.

However, he was positive about the outer harbour’s future, believing the decision to explore wind energy instead of container trade opened up new possibilities, albeit with increased competition from rival ports.

Mr Wright added: “Overall, my opinion is that the harbour will be a good thing for the town in terms of the economy.”

But he sounded a word of caution: “I want hundreds of jobs to be created and people to feel they have value for money and for more understanding of what the project’s going to do for the whole area and unfortunately we are nowhere near that.”


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