New group launched to fight port plans

A NEW group has been formed to fight for the expansion of Bathside Bay and to help put an end to "scare stories" from opposing pressure groups.SPEAKOUT – which stands for Support Port Extension and Kill Off Unemployment Threat - is an umbrella group of Harwich organisations and individuals backing the plans for Harwich International Port by Hutchison Ports UK.

A NEW group has been formed to fight for the expansion of Bathside Bay and to help put an end to "scare stories" from opposing pressure groups.

SPEAKOUT – which stands for Support Port Extension and Kill Off Unemployment Threat - is an umbrella group of Harwich organisations and individuals backing the plans for Harwich International Port by Hutchison Ports UK.

However, the launch of the group comes as plans for a referendum or parish poll on the issue received a setback on Wednesday night when those present at a parish meeting voted to put the vote on hold.

SPEAKOUT's leaders say it has been formed because those involved believe there is a clear majority of local residents in favour of the development and they are keen they turn out to vote in any future referendum.


You may also want to watch:


A spokesman said: "SPEAKOUT believes that the unsubstantiated scare stories being put around by RAPE (Residents Against Port Expansion) need to be countered and that it is important that the silent majority of local residents know there are those within the community willing to speak out on their behalf."

Alan Robson, founder member and chairman of the Harwich Traders' Association, said: "SPEAKOUT wishes to see real employment opportunities locally in the way that local people were able to through port-related jobs in the past.

Most Read

"While wishing to see all possible action taken to minimise the impact of the development on the town, SPEAKOUT believes the advantages to present and future generations of residents massively outweigh the disadvantages."

Geoff Bull, vice-chairman and secretary of Harwich Traders, added: "If this opportunity is lost then the lines of cars leaving town each morning for work will get longer and longer. Harwich thrived when our ports were booming and this development is probably the last real chance that we have to prevent our town from becoming a forgotten little backwater acting as a dormitory for those working many miles away."

The group said it was supported by Harwich MP Ivan Henderson, Harwich High Steward Bill Bleakley, Harwich Chamber of Trade and Commerce, the Harwich Conservation Panel, the Licensed Victuallers' Association, the Dovercourt Bay Traders and the Harwich branch of the Labour Party.

RAPE, which held a public meeting on Monday night, claims the redevelopment will not create enough jobs for the town, owning to a high degree of automation.

Wednesday night's parish meeting was called by Harwich Mayor Les Double to discuss whether or not a referendum or parish poll should be held about the expansion plans.

However, the peaceful meeting – attended by about 60 people - voted to defer calling one for now. The issue could be discussed again if the mayor, two councillors or six registered electors call for a further public meeting.

Mr Double said: "I have done my duty and am not inclined to call another one. I think it needs to be left up to the parishioners now to call the next one."

If completed, Harwich International Port could become the second largest container port in the UK, with its quay length doubled to 3,000 metres.

It would enable it to handle up to four deep-sea container ships simultaneously and ensure it could receive all types of modern container vessels.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter