New committee to be formed to manage threatened Suffolk harbour
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Community leaders have agreed to form a committee to oversee the management of a Suffolk harbour under threat by rising sea levels.
The future of Southwold Harbour, a popular tourist attraction in the seaside resort, was discussed in a simultaneous East Suffolk Council and Southwold Town Council meeting on Tuesday.
Last February, law firm Ashfords, representing East Suffolk, proposed a 'best practice' model of a near-equal split between council members and independent members of the community in a forthcoming Harbour Management Committee (HMC).
Ashfords said an equal split would be required to pass the Harbour Order of 1933.
Craig Rivett, East Suffolk's cabinet member for economic development, previously said such a proposal was needed to break a "40-year deadlock" over the harbour's management.
A motion to create the HMC was passed unanimously in Tuesday's meeting.
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The committee will consist of five members of East Suffolk's cabinet and four independents.
Urgent repairs at a cost of up to £1.1million are set to begin at harbour in the spring after East Suffolk councillors approved emergency work last November.
The harbour’s north pier fender is damaged and in need of repair to protect boats navigating to and from the Blyth Estuary.
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The fender was substantially rebuilt in 1992 to reduce the impact of wave erosion, while further repairs were carried out in 2008.
The cost will be funded from existing council capital budgets and reserves.
Southwold town and district councillor David Beavan said he would be putting his name forward to be on the management committee as a representative of East Suffolk.
He said: "Our harbour faces the terminal challenge of sea level rise. It could last anything between 50 and 500 years before it becomes a floodplain.
"It is our unique selling point as a tourist destination - we have to keep it going as long as we can.
"This is quite a big moment.
"It is absolutely vital that we now work together. We're really hopeful - there's a lot of history in the harbour.
"If we can build trust between the council and the people that will be great.
"Hopefully we are resolving this issue and keeping the harbour open for as long as possible."