Dear BHT Member,
Mr Thorpe has requested that we advise you of the any corrections or clarifications we feel we should make after some comments he made about our report and accounts and last member update .
Whilst the Trustees do not believe any corrections or clarifications are needed, we set out our response to Mr Thorpe’s comments below .
Mr Thorpe raised no specific claim of inaccuracy after receiving this email.
PS: Don’t forget the Public Meeting “ Bembridge Harbour The Future” arranged by Sir Paul Kenny tomorrow 28th7.00pm at Bembridge Parish Hall. All voices should be heard.
Email correspondence between BHT and Mr Thorpe, Nov 2018:
Dear Mr Thorpe
Thank you for your comments. We note you have chosen to take issue with only a small number of issues in our commentary upon the activities of the SHA. On those issues, in general we do not agree with your criticisms as all of our statements are made based on evidence in the public domain including, for instance, BHAG minutes on dredging, planning officers’ documents and written statements from yourself (acting on behalf of various companies) or your agents or lawyers acting similarly. You have your own files and if concerned you may wish to refer to them.
We copy your letter below and include our response to each point [in italics] under the place where your comment is made, for ease of reference.
The Trustees of BHT
For and on behalf of Bembridge Harbour Trust
MR THORPE’S EMAIL BELOW WITH BHT’s COMMENTS IN ITALICS
I would refer to the recently published BHT accounts and report dated 09/11/2018 and also to BHT’s advice to members dated 11/11/2018.
It appears that there are several major inaccuracies included within both documents that I would request you consider correcting please, such as:
a. Houseboat Lawful Development Certificate:
You explain that there was no commitment within the LDC application for further reinvestment, such as sewage or other harbour improvements.
As you are fully aware, a LDC application does not relate to any such matters at all. The LDC application is purely to establish the present day position of existing houseboats and is the first phase of a two stage process in planning terms.
Agreed in relation to the LDC. There has been earlier reference to the provision of sewerage upgrade in relation to further houseboats. As the only application in the public realm is the LDC, we wanted to be clear that the upgrade related only to a planning application for more houseboats, and whether that be the one you submitted in September 2016, in relation to which the reference of upgrade was initially made, or a future planning application.
To state that I have deliberately not progressed a separate planning application is unfounded and incorrect as you are fully aware.
You submitted a planning application in September 2016, with notification to all houseboat owners. We were advised it was for 34 houseboats. The planning case officer advised that he requested environmental information from you in order to progress the application, and that you did not and have not provided it. We assume this was deliberate and not accidental. On checking more than a year later, you had still not provided the information, this application was still on the LPA’s books, and had not been formally withdrawn.
We will now review the second stage [a planning application that was originally prepared many months ago] and submit the same to the LPA that will include installation of sewage systems into existing houseboats free of charge that will be financed by some additional houseboat plots.
You have been kind enough to acknowledge that the Trust has publicly stated its support for the principle of a limited number of additional houseboats, subject to reviewing the details, and we look forward to a new application. We look forward to your proposing and entering a voluntary legally binding agreement to install fully specified sewage plant.
Please also note that all actions are fully in accordance with the ’63 Harbour Act.
We look forward to the proper use of the proceeds in line with Section 31 (1) and (2) of the ’63 Act. For the avoidance of doubt that is the full BHIC proceeds, not after deduction of £30,000 and 20% as you have previously set out as your intention.
b. Regeneration Planning Application:
Your references regarding the relationship between Bembridge Harbour Improvements Co Ltd and Bembridge Investments Ltd are totally unfounded and incorrect.
Having reread the documents, your suggestion that BHT has misunderstood the relationship between BHIC and BIL is mystifying. Please refer to your own correspondence with the LPA.
As a result of the unwarranted and extensive time period of BHT dealing with the S106 document as well as having had a considerable input into the same, there are now no outstanding issues that BHT have not agreed with.
The LPA will confirm to you that the planning representations on the s.106 submitted by BHT has not delayed its progress in any way. You are incorrect in asserting above concerning drafting of the s106 agreement that “. . there are now no outstanding issues that BHT have not agreed with”. There are still fundamental aspects of the draft which we do not agree with, and these concerns are in the public domain.
BHT fails to register my suggestion to the LPA minuted in January 2016 that the Harbour benefits are actioned before the residential development.
Whilst we do acknowledge your earlier expression of intent of building all new harbour facilities before the old are destroyed, we would comment that firstly this is no more than common sense and secondly it was a great pity that this intent was not initially expressed in your own professional’s drafts of the s106.
c. Bembridge Groyne:
From your description you try and suggest that this project is as a result of BHT’s intervention.
This is false and it needs recording that it is an initiative by Bembridge Harbour Users Group alone.
You incorrectly suggest that the Harbour is only recently engaged in supporting this project; this is unfounded and incorrect as we have been involved since early 2017 whilst also confirming to BHUG that use can be made of our permitted development rights, vat registration hopefully and construction management knowledge.
You will probably recall that you invited BHT to work on the groyne project shortly after you purchased the Harbour in 2011. You are aware that Trustees and BHT Members have promoted the Groyne repair ever since. Your apparent aversion to assistance in achieving this common goal direct from BHT has led to our efforts to channel our desired cooperation with and through initiatives led by BASSHA and BHUG. Our comments only affirm the facts behind our work to support the current BHUG led project.
You incorrectly state that the marina has not been dredged for six years; the marina was last dredged in 2015 [three years ago].
You incorrectly state that the inner channel has not been dredged for decades; most of it was last dredged in 2017 [last year].
You incorrectly state that BHT is promoting meaningful negotiations regarding silt from the river Yar; again, this is a BHUG initiative working in conjunction with the Harbour.
You appear to advise that the long-stay “resident” (or Bembridge) Marina was dredged in 2015. If we are wrong and to put the matter straight can you please provide the formal record and quantities, as Trustees do not recollect any dredging since winter 2012/2103 completed in spring 2013. Your BHAG minutes and individual’s recollections do not currently appear to support the proposition of dredging having taken place in this marina in 2015.
You may also be suggesting the same at Fisherman’s pontoon, when we are only aware of very minor works on the edge of the channel close by. If we are wrong and to put the matter straight as you request, can you provide the formal dredging record and quantities.
We are aware that the visitor Marina area (and into the adjacent channel that boats raft into) has seen significant dredging, and there has been some activity around the approaches to BBS, we assume at its own direct cost. But we are not aware of any dredging to the east or west of this in the inner harbour Channel. To put the matter straight please provide the dredging record and quantities.
The same general comment applies to the river Yar siltation as it does for the Groyne. BHT Trustees and Members work through BHUG as the most effective apparent conduit through which to make any help we may be able to offer acceptable to you.
e. Harbour Governance:
It appears that Mr Gully’s habit of both mis-quoting and distorting the truth is now spreading across all trustees.
I have never claimed “different standards applied for smaller harbours”; my statement said “We are fully conversant with the Ports Good Governance Guidance and comply with it as far as possible, being a ‘minnow’ harbour when the same government directive also applies to larger ports such as Southampton and Bristol”.
Aside from a wholly wrong slur, we are happy to agree that you made the statement you quote. We have listed the many aspects of the Guidance with which we say the Harbour Authority does not comply. You have not sought to contradict this. In this context, we believe any reasonable reading of your statement does not contradict the statements we have made, i.e. that “as far as possible” means ‘not very far at all’.
f. BHT Secretary:
Obviously the loss of Jill Attrill is very sad and we have passed on our sympathy and best wishes to Chris and his family already.
However in stating that Felix Hetherington is now secretary to BHT is incorrect and has not been formally registered.
Perhaps you were unaware that since the Companies Act 2006 came into operation it is no longer a requirement for companies of the size of BHT to appoint a Company Secretary. BHT of course has the power to do so and may appoint one in the future. In the meantime, Felix Hetherington is covering some secretarial functions for BHT on a temporary basis.
The Trust has been deeply upset by the sudden and untimely loss of Jill, which I’m sure you will understand. We have put in train notifying Companies House and the Charity Commission of this.
As I said at the outset, I would ask you to advise your members of the inaccuracies currently contained within both documents and correct the same please at your earliest; many thanks in anticipation.
As our conclusion could we, the BHT Trustees, say we regret some of the language you use above in describing us. Of course, we wish to find a way to work with you for the long-term survival of the Harbour as an open navigable refuge, a community amenity. We can see no reason for you not wanting to publish a full long-term plan to explain to all your vision for the Harbour’s future. For instance, show us projects you would undertake if finance was no barrier. Share your problems. Show the communities a costed vision of the future and then we are sure you would find cooperation arriving from many quarters.