Group hits out at harbour transfer

PUBLISHED: 10:10 30 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 30 June 2010

Campaigners this week expressed outrage over a transfer order they say could remove Great Yarmouth's outer harbour from any local control or influence.

Campaigners this week expressed outrage over a transfer order they say could remove Great Yarmouth's outer harbour from any local control or influence.

The Greater Yarmouth Independent Scrutiny Group, lead by John Cooper, of Burnt Lane, Gorleston, says the effect of the Harbour Revision Order (HRO) will be to cut local control and further burden tax payers.

Under the order control will pass from Great Yarmouth Port Authority to Great Yarmouth Port Company setting it on a dangerous path where it will be able to act unchallenged, Mr Cooper claims.

A 42-day consultation period is already underway. The final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr Cooper said he was also concerned about where the order would leave Gorleston Pier and Darby's Hard and also about the cost to the taxpayer of operating Haven Bridge.

Meanwhile profitable Breydon Bridge had been kept within the harbour's fold, he said.

The group was formed in July last year and has made several requests under the Freedom of Information Act. One was to ask why Great Yarmouth tax payers had to contribute almost half a million pounds to the project, receiving seven different answers from Norfolk County Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

“That really got me going,” Mr Cooper said, making it his mission to carry out all the checks and balances.

He said: “What we are trying to do is stop the Great Yarmouth Port Authority passing the assets to Great Yarmouth Port Company. If they get the HRO it will give them the power to raise compulsory purchase orders and there is great consternation about that.”

The borough council's cabinet raised no objection to the HRO.

Responding to his concerns in a letter, vice chairman of Great Yarmouth Port Company Eliza O'Toole, said: “The proposed HRO does not change the legislative basis which is in operation today and under which powers GYPA acts. GYPC will therefore be operating as a Port Authority on the same legislative basis as GYPA.

“The same obligations and responsibilities that apply by law to GYPA today will apply by law to GYPC…..The global financial crisis has challenged businesses across every sector and every part of the world (Great Yarmouth included). In the same way as all affected businesses appropriate and responsible steps were taken by the business to ensure both its ability to ride the storm and to ensure its overall longevity.

“We are confident that such steps will assure the continued benefits to the wider public interest which have undoubtedly arisen from the new outer harbour at Great Yarmouth.”

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