Posted on February 23, 2017
By Rachel Stretton, DorsetECHO
WEYMOUTH Harbour is set to end the financial year on a high, but there are still significant challenges ahead.
The Harbour Management Board is set to meet on tomorrow, Wednesday, to discuss the 2016/17 budget.
Reports prepared for the committee state that there will be a surplus of £139,441 on this year’s budget, which will be carried forward for reserves.
There was a financial boost from income earned when part of blockbuster Dunkirk was filmed in and around the harbour last summer. The film will be in cinemas from July 21.
Further income was also increased by letting out storage areas at the port, RPI increases on licences and efforts to ensure all users are charged for the energy they are using.
But money was pulled from the Harbour Reserves fund last year to balance the 2016/17 budget, and to finance a rolling programme of works. The reserves were needed to plug a hole in the income left after the departure of the Condor ferry service.
The board has been holding workshops to discuss how the harbour can be kept afloat financially in the long term. A report states the workshops have been ‘successful in helping with the understanding of the scale of the financial challenge in the absence of a ferry service’ and that they have also identified the need for a longer term strategy for the harbour, which will feed into the Town Centre Masterplan work.
In addition to repairs to the harbour walls, which is being funded by cash raised from the sale of the old council offices at North Quay, the report also states capital funding needs to be found for dredging the harbour. A marine licence has been granted but the extent of the dredging will depend on the funding available.
The report states: “Dredging is key to the future success of the harbour and needs to be funded as a capital project at the earliest opportunity.”
Parking around the harbour has also been identified as an issue. The report recommends that incentives to encourage pleasure boat users are explored, adding: “Parking remains the largest factor for discouraging customers to berth with us. Despite several meetings with parking and numerous changes to the parking policy and charges there has not been a favourable solution for boat owners.
“This will potentially get worse as parking spaces are removed from North Quay and perhaps in due course with any Town Centre Masterplan developments.”