Councillors to be given second chance on Harbour dues

Decision on harbour berthing increases to be brought back to the Council.

COUNCILLORS WILL RECONSIDER a controversial decision to increase boat berthing charges at Moray’s council-owned harbours.

The decision taken in December has been fraught with controversy, having been taken amid opposition claims that the data on which the proposals were based were “seriously flawed”.

Councillors agreed to imposing berthing charge increases of up to 50% as well as removing a 25% discount for owners aged over 60. Their decision came despite the accuracy of information provided to them being questioned, in particular comparison data with charges made by other, similar, harbours operated privately and by neighbouring authorities.

SNP councillor for Buckie, Gordon McDonald, was particularly vocal on the issue – now his insistence that the report on which the decision was made was “full of holes” has resulted in a new paper being brought back to the council for consideration.

Confirming that the issue was to be reconsidered, a Council spokesman said: “A number of issues have arisen following the earlier committee meeting and it has been decided to refer the matter back to elected members at the earliest opportunity.”

Councillor McDonald said: “The report which that meeting was based on was so full of holes that it was misleading – we were not given all the facts and it was not clear what we were voting on.

“Harbour users find it unclear how different increases will impact on them, so I’m glad this report is now being brought back for further inspection.”

Earlier this month boat owners at Hopeman harbour revealed that they had launched a petition urging reconsideration of the decision, with local owner Ian McCulloch saying: “We have not got the council harbours into this debt so we should not have to pay for it – there are quite a few lads in their 70s and their boats are a hobby, it is not like they are wealthy people with yachts.”