Yarmouth outer harbour debate - the campaigner’s view

John Cooper, former Great Yarmouth port welfare officer:I first got involved in 1986 when I was running the very busy Seamen's Mission, Michael Boon the chief executive of the Port Authority had great delight telling me where he would site the new Mission in the New Outer Harbour.

In 2008 when looking at the building progress of the outer harbour it was obvious that the plans for the harbour paid for by the ratepayers, were not being followed.

And by early 2009 I was perturbed because it seemed, from documents uncovered or the different answers for the same Freedom of Information questions asked, that the reality of the Outer Harbour was not in accordance with what was made public in the AMION report, commissioned by the East of England Development Agency, its later Scoping Study and then Project Briefing, which went out with the advert to tender.

For 20 years, anyone with the slightest interest in the port was anticipating great things, uppermost in every ones mind was the return of a ferry service like the old Norfolk Line. If a ferry had happened then the 1,000 jobs would have happened.

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If the design of the outer harbour had followed the design we paid �1.5m for, then the awful name that the port is unfit for purpose would not be bandied about. We all want this project to succeed – we have waited long enough.

My question is why did Eastport Great Yarmouth Ltd, the company formed by Norfolk County Council, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and Great Yarmouth Port Authority, deviate from the mandate in the Project Briefing that the grants and state aid were based on? And in doing so, give up any rights for Great Yarmouth Port Authority to participate in a joint venture partnership to share in future commercial revenues?

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Oldies like me stand to gain or lose nothing, it's the future generations that I feel for. The media for 20 years has hyped up the population into the belief that the future is bright, yes if several more changes to the design are made, and the new owners really did make an effort to include the stakeholders and community in the port's operations, then the future could be bright.

As a seasoned traveller for me the Outer Harbour means a gateway to Europe and a doorway for Europeans, and for trade and tourism.

We want to know what you think of the outer harbour issue. Write to The Letters Editor, EDP Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk

Tomorrow – What now for outer harbour, Eastport UK chief executive Eddie Freeman outlines the firm's vision for the port

Plus Great Yarmouth scrutiny campaigner John Cooper on why he believes there are still questions to answer.

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