Legal threat on Southwold harbour

A Southwold harbour enthusiast has threatened legal action against Waveney District Council, claiming they had illegally kept £4m of revenue while repairs to the crumbling waterfront were neglected.

A Southwold harbour user has threatened legal action against Waveney District Council, claiming it had illegally kept £4m of revenue while repairs to the crumbling waterfront were neglected.

Although owned by Southwold Town Council, the harbour has been managed by Waveney since 1974, and is governed by a 1933 act of Parliament which says money earned within its boundaries must be spent on repairs as a first priority.

But harbour user Steve Macfarlane said the derelict north wall proved that insufficient money had been allocated for repairs, and the council had "spirited away" cash for other projects.

Waveney officials said they were working to find funding to replace the harbour wall, and that Mr Macfarlane's concerns would be discussed at a meeting later this month.

Mr Macfarlane said: "The 1933 act clearly says money must be used firstly on repairs and maintenance, then on improvements, and only then can the surplus be spent elsewhere. The harbour wall is crumbling because of a lack of investment. By my reckoning, close to £4m has been extracted in contra-vention of the act. I have informed Waveney that I have a backer to fund a judicial review to force them to do what they should already be doing."

A spokesman for Waveney said: "These questions have already been submitted to the council and officers have organised a meeting with members to discuss these issues. A response will be available after the meeting on September 27. Meanwhile, the council continues to discuss the potential handover of the harbour with Southwold Town Council and is presently completing a consultation exercise on a scheme to replace the harbour wall, full details of which will be available when this process is completed."

Most Read

Graham Hay Davison, chairman of the Harbour Users' Association, said he had written to the council asking why rent income from a static-caravan park within the harbour boundaries had not been spent on repairs.

"Waveney recognise they have a responsibility for replacing the north dock wall," he said. "There would be a lot of capital expense but it would be easier if Waveney complied with the act and spent the £100-£120,000 a year which is being spirited away, and used the £126,000 rent from the caravan site. We will support Waveney... to secure the funding for the repair and improvement of the harbour, but this situation has been made because they have not maintained it for 30 years."

Negotiations are under way to hand back the management of the harbour to a charitable trust run by the town council.

District and town counci-llors will meet harbour users in a public meeting at 4pm today at Southwold Sailing Club as part of a consultation on new byelaws.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter