Minute Number 155 – Questions from the Public.

Q1) Gary Humm – There is evidence of a highway down to low water between the area known as the Town Hard as given by William Panel and the town jetty. Can the Town Council prove ownership of that section of land, if yes when was it purchased and who was it purchased from?

Q2) James Holesworth – A recent write-up in a boat magazine mentioned changes in the Harbour. Can any councillor answer what changes are to take place in the harbour and what affect it will have on the residents?

Q3) Bill Williams – it was said at an open meeting at the Sailing Club last Autumn that Council would get Counsel’s opinion about the Hard and they are now going to get Counsel’s opinion about the highway. In the interest of transparency are the public going to have sight of the legal advice and findings? If not, why not and under what authority are they withholding it?

Q4) Madelaine Cornell – The Hard was left to the residents of Brightlingsea and the Town Council holds the freehold as its representatives. Why do the Town Council make decisions on that land without consulting the town?

Councillor Goggin replied as follows:

In 1974 the Town Council took over the running of the Hard. The Town Council have a responsibility to act legally, the council does not make any statements unless they are checked by a Solicitor, property lawyer etc. Meetings have taken place with Gary and the Harbour Commissioners – the meeting yesterday brought new evidence – it was a map dated 1840, (which Councillor Goggin had not seen). Gary asked the question yesterday about the ownership of the hard. Councillor Goggin said that he had promised to speak to the Solicitors, which he did, who in turn spoke to Essex County Council, who in turn spoke to the Land Registry. Brightlingsea Town Council owns everything to the right of the jetty and everything to the left of the Colne Yacht Club Jetty. There is no highway accordingly to the current legal views. Regarding the changes in the harbour – the councils remit does not go that far. He suggested that you contact the Harbour Office for that information. He mentioned that the Urban District Council gave the managing of the Hard to the Town Council, along with several other areas. At the moment the Town Council has chosen to ask the Harbour Commissioners to run the hard.

A lengthy discussion took place.

Councillor Steady added that the harbour is a vibrant area with so many businesses down there. He mentioned his MSR for the Recreation Ground which is similar to the Hard. It was donated by Bayard Brown in 1898. Football clubs, Cricket club, Playcentre all use it, and all pay a rent to use it. Not only are they paying a rent, but they are investing in it – part ownership. Why can’t we embrace the hard and harbour together. Embrace as a town and sort the problems out, which will be of benefit for all, invest in it and improve the facilities. Are we in such a position to be intransigent, who owns that bit, we should embrace together. Someone is going to have to pay for the upkeep, admin etc. Is the rest of the town subsidising that part of the town? What is in it for me? It is a community asset – we need to move forward.

Councillor Block added that 99% are happy, with 1% are saying they are not going to pay.

Next people will want free swimming, or free use of the Rec as they live in Brightlingsea.

Councillor Yallop and J Chapman both reiterated what Councillor Steady had said.

The Mayor then asked if another meeting should be held to discuss this, but not within a council meeting. This was agreed.

Councillor Goggin added there was never any question of who owns the hard. The Town Council own it, the running of it they have delegated authority to the Harbour Commissioners. At the meeting held yesterday it was mentioned that it is Ok to charge, but not Brightlingsea people. The people of Brightlingsea own the hard, it is run by the Town Council, who delegate authority to the Harbour Commissioners. We have regular meetings with the Harbour commissioners, money needs to be spent on the hard – we have many visitors/tourists – do we spread the charge evenly across everyone?