CAMPAIGNERS are hoping years of unanswered questions over Great Yarmouth’s outer harbour will finally be answered after a government watchdog announced an inquiry into the controversial £80m project.

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Locals who have remained sceptical about the scheme since 2007 - when the port was privatised with an £18m kick start funded by taxpayers – were jubilant this week when the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) announced that it would be launching the inquiry.

They hope the probing hearing will lift the lid on how public funds have been used to develop the port, which promised new jobs - that campaigners claim have not been delivered - and a continental ferry link, that bosses have ruled out for at least a decade.

A date for the inquiry has not yet been set but is expected to take place next spring and run for a week, depending on the number of people called upon to be quizzed and “the volume of evidence”.

The inquiry will scrutinise the Harbour Revision Order (HRO) that aims to transfer the outer harbour from the Great Yarmouth Port Authority into the hands of the private Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC).

John Cooper leads the Greater Yarmouth Independent Scrutiny Group, which has campaigned furiously against the order as they believe GYPC is “not fit” to take over the port authority’s duties, and said he was in “awe” that a inquiry was to be held.

“It has been four years since I stood on the South Esplanade and said to myself ‘what are they doing to the planned outer harbour that we are paying for?’ I never thought this day would come, so many closed doors, dead ends.

“I am totally in awe at the news of a full public inquiry, I really cannot take the news in yet,” he added.

“After many miles of emails and letters and continually knocking on doors we have at last the chance to air our grievances as to why we end up with a port unfit for purpose, at an inquiry.”

The retired port welfare officer from Gorleston hopes the investigation will reveal “why we lost five years of marine business by going after an inappropriate container idea instead of the planed ferry”. He also hoped it would “spell out how the present port company should operate the port” but added: “I don’t want heads to roll, I want success.”

Eliza O’Toole, vice chairman of GYPC, was delighted the MMO was progressing the order and “in the usual way” was planning to hold an inquiry, that her company would engage in.

She said: “The inquiry process will have no impact on the day to day operations of the port and core focus of growing trade and customer base in Great Yarmouth, in strong support of the region’s wider initiative to secure economic growth for the region.”

The MMO, which oversees marine planning, enforcement and fisheries management, is now writing to the Planning Inspectorate to arrange the inquiry.

A spokesman added: “We felt such a complex case would benefit from a full independent examination of all the evidence available.

“As soon as full details are available, we will publicise the date and venue, with any member of the public welcome to attend, and give evidence. The length of the inquiry depends on the number of people and the volume of evidence, but we anticipate the inquiry will last up to a week.

“The planning inspector would then consider all the evidence, and provide recommendations to the MMO which will inform our decision on the harbour order application.”

22 comments

  • If it's relevant let's hope that the Corporation ensures that any GYBC officers who were involved in this project and now applying for voluntary redundancy are contractually bound to give evidence as part of the terms of their redundancy packages.

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    DWW25

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

  • This is excellent news. I just hope that there are some 50p,5p moments for the councillors and all parties involved in this very secretive arrangement. I E mailed Private eye magazine to look into this scheme for their Rotten Boroughs and In The Back section.I really do hope that this will not be a whitewashing affair.

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    wes1975

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • John Cooper. The only person who says it is an enquiry into the whole deal is you. The MMO has absolutely no remit other than to assess whether or not to grant the HRO. If you think it is going to rake over and adjudicate on all the old stuff you keep trotting out, you're deluded.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

  • I notice there has been no mention of the waste of money that was spent on the Cranes that were sold of for next to nothing. I would also see a investigation into the Big Screen Saga and why the council tax payer has been ripped off over that one as well.

    Report this comment

    Dave

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • I hope the police will be on standby to arrest and charge those deemed to have lied and cheated ?.

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    "V"

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • Your ignorance T&B must be a comfortable shroud

    Report this comment

    John L Cooper

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

  • Certainly I do not hide behind the cloak of anonymity unlike many on these pages. I am using my middle name, which I use in one walk of life but otherwise i suspect people who know me will probably be able to work out who I am - if they frankly care.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

  • "Tom Jefferies" isn't exactly the most anonymous of names I've seen on here. I thought this HRO inquiry was solely to look at the transfer of statutory powers from the Port Authority to the Port Company. Something which the port company currently carries out on behalf of the authority at the moment anyway. Nothing to do with the construction of the outer harbour.

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    Tea&Biscuits

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

  • Surely the outer harbour is already owned by the port company, as they paid for it.

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    Tea&Biscuits

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

  • Hilarious. It is an enquiry into the HRO. It's not an enquiry into the harbour project as whole, which is what Cooper and his buffoons have been asking for!

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

  • Let us all wait shall we for the Public Inquiry, Where Hull, Ipswich, Grimsby, Immingham are getting contracts our Port is in decline, any profits are being transferred to share-holders. The Outer Harbour consumed £20,000,000.00 public money, EPGYL transferred, for free £35,000,000.00 to IPH, there is also a further £7,000,000.00 of public funds lost to the tax-payer's on this project. The deal never was that a private company should come in and cream off the profits before maintenance of the Port, the deal was that the "developer" would work with the Authority on a profit share basis.

    Report this comment

    John L Cooper

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

  • This must be the good news Eastport were prophesying. Lets hear Eddie Freeman's version of events now and how he couldn't get on with the management there. Messers Collins and Shrimplin, there isn't going to be any reason for you not to attend this scrutinization. Book me a front row seat please somebody. Well done John Cooper, what a shame the borough and county councils aren't made entirely of people of such integrity.

    Report this comment

    fester1902

    Thursday, November 8, 2012

  • Congratulations to John Cooper and all those who have fought this for so long. There will be many more public enquiries to come in Norfolk to expose the shady little deals that have been prevalent by the 'untouchables' inside County Hall for far too long.

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    Honest John

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • Tom Jeffries it is obvious your ignorance outshines your ability to read! Try reading it again preferably with a child than can correct your inability to comprehend English.

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    John L Cooper

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

  • Industry professionals always knew that attracting a ferry service was highly unlikely and attracting containers without a viable rail connection and being so far from the major areas of consumption was a pipe dream. The only prospect for a port such as Great Yarmouth is being a hub for offshore Wind Gas which can also be said for Lowestoft. Limited agricultural exports might also be achieved.It will be fascinating to see on what evidence was produced to enable this white elephant to be financed and built and what guarantees were required and given.

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    daveinbradwell

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • And none of that is related to the MMO inquiry for the HRO. Wasn't it only £18m of public funding? Which means around £60m was invested by Eastport, and you're complaining they're taking profits out for shareholders? I think they're entitled to do that after that investment. Also, that's how businesses run. Why should EP be different?

    Report this comment

    Tea&Biscuits

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

  • Certainly I do not hide behind the cloak of anonymity unlike many on these pages. I am using my middle name, which I use in one walk of life but otherwise i suspect people who know me will probably be able to work out who I am - if they frankly care.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

  • Certainly I do not hide behind the cloak of anonymity unlike many on these pages. I am using my middle name, which I use in one walk of life but otherwise i suspect people who know me will probably be able to work out who I am - if they frankly care.

    Report this comment

    Tom Jeffries

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

  • Excellent news, the design of the harbour was floored from the start, the crab claw design should have had one side overlapping the other, preventing the swell from entering at all and allowing for a fast ferry service to the continent, potentially the fastest link in East Anglia, as we are closer than Harwich, or Felixstowe.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • In the style of the 1982 Sun Paper headlines "Gotcha!"................ Great news for the John CooperDennis Durrant , who have consistently pointed out that "the king has no clothes" to be derided in the GYM as naysayers by their peers and verbally attacked by local politicians. My only concern being "a week" for an enquiry of this magnitude? Don't think they will even manage to get past the stonewalling keepers of the 30year secret to get to the smoking gun

    Report this comment

    The Lone Gunman

    Friday, November 9, 2012

  • Stop hiding behind anonymity who are you saveourport@btinternet.com

    Report this comment

    John L Cooper

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

  • Any enquiry should ask why were Associated Ports a principle objector over the project for so long. Was there any connection between their objection and the fact that a Ro Ro was set up running from Ipswich around the same period? The Outer Harbour has brought jobs already in the strengthening market and potential of new operations (Offshore Wind, Grain) Were it not for this improved port infrastructure we would not now have any commercially viable port operation. It will of course be a good thing to have an enquiry and will clear up the whole matter once and for all. At the end of the day we still need to make it all work and we should still be pushing for better road and rail links into the town in anticipation that at some point we shall see an upswing in the local economy.

    Report this comment

    Nick

    Friday, November 9, 2012

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