23rd July 2017
Love Our Harbour is an initiative set up by BHT to reinforce community spirit for the beautiful and unique public facility we all rely on.
We will be holding small, friendly events highlighting all that’s good about our harbour, such as nature walks, foraging sessions, local interest talks, coffee mornings, plein air art sessions, birding walks and more besides. These will be open to all, and some of them free.
If you would like to be notified of upcoming events, and to hear news about BHT’s tireless efforts to ensure the harbour’s wellbeing and sustainability into the future, please get in touch.
Why do we need to love our harbour?
Because its too important to to leave it entirely in the hands of the private owner.
Bembridge Harbour – A public facility in private hands
BembridgeHarbour is (unusually) privately owned. As a public facility it is vital that it continues to operate safely and sustainably, whoever happens to own it. An Act of Parliament sets out the rules of private ownership under Law.
1 The Bembridge Harbour (1963) Act
• describes the owner as a custodian on behalf of the State
• gives the owner extraordinary legal powers, not to be used for personal gain
• obliges the owner to maintain a safe and navigable harbour by law
• makes it illegal for an owner to take money out of the harbour EXCEPT under the strict terms of the Act
2 The Act only covers the harbour itself(1). Unfortunately it does not safeguard the valuable land assets, which were carved off from the harbour around the time of privatisation.
3 The land assets (which the harbour cannot function without) are owned by a separate property company(2). This company is owned and run by the same directors as the harbour. It lives off the harbour by charging it for use of the harbour offices etc and in the past these charges have been excessive. The property company has no responsibilities or accountability under the Act.
4 There is a dangerous tendency to think of the harbour and the property company as one entity. This blurs the important distinction between them so it then goes unnoticed when the harbour is made to pay for things it shouldn’t. It also makes it difficult to judge whether something is good for Bembridge Harbour or just good for the owner.
5 The two-company system is unsafe. It is the means by which unscrupulous owners have been able to get around the Act ever since the 1960s. The last owner all but bankrupted the harbour before being prosecuted.
6 Bembridge Harbour remains vulnerable. The Act is effectively unpoliced. There is no one officially watching an owner. There is no public right of access to detailed harbour accounts.
7 Bembridge Harbour Trust (BHT) actively strives to see the harbour gets a fair deal. It is a registered charity with approx 180 members from a concerned and committed harbour community. BHT was originally formed to make a bid to buy the harbour during its crisis in 2011. The Trust’s overarching desire is not to own the harbour, but to see it run in everyone’s best interest.
1 Bembridge Harbour Improvements Company Ltd – the harbour itself and the role of Statutory Harbour Authority. This company is strictly regulated and controlled by The Pier and Harbour Order (Bembridge Harbour) Confirmation Act 1963.
2 Bembridge Investments Ltd – a separate property company that owns the land, buildings and other assets without which the harbour cannot operate. It is NOT governed by the Act.