Development Group Note – 24 February 2012
On Wednesday Terry and I were present at the CEC Leisure and Culture Committee. We were allowed a deputation and below is a rough script of our presentation. The only question from the Committee questioned whether the mixture of different bridge contractors was likely to support our request for the legacy following bridge building of improved access, dredging and assistance with a permanent wave barrier. We answered that we had experienced major projects and that with such a project it is likely that some side-benefits for the local populace, inconvenienced by such a project, might well follow as it has done before.
We stayed on for the business that mattered to us, namely the presentation by Stephanie Anne Harris of her Port Edgar paper to the Committee. We have all seen that paper and found little contentious content but were pleased to note the lease would be a long one, between 80 and 125 years, which was accepted unanimously by members of the Committee.
Stephanie Anne Harris’s presentation was accepted by the Committee so work can proceed on preparing the Invitation to tender and the EU required publication of the offer.
After the meeting a short discussion was held with first a journalist from The Scotsman, and after he left, with Chris Tonks (a representative of the Bosun’s Locker team was also present). This covered very general comments on the presentation Terry gave and the function of the meeting and the actions of the Council that are to follow.
As a sidenote, it was interesting to note that everyone on the Committee was in attendance.
Culture and Leisure Committee: 22nd March 2012 (Note: February in fact)
1 Thanks for the opportunity to speak.
2 In summary. I want to say…
– we support what’s being done at Port Edgar
– we think your officials are making a good job of what they’re doing
– and we are keen to find ways of working with you ……and with whoever takes on the site …..to help make the project a success.
3 The ‘we’ in this case is the Port Edgar Development Group – a loosely formed body of Port Edgar stakeholders (including the local Community Council).
For my part, I am Commodore of the Yacht Club and Vice Chair of FYCA – as well as being a Council Member (something akin to a non Exec on a Board) for RYA (Scotland).
I’m joined today by Frank Pullen, Chair of the P Edgar Berthholders Association.
The Port Edgar Development Group came together immediately after the announcement that Ed Leisure were ceasing to be the site operator.
Our worst fear……. site closure.
We believe, for many reasons, the site has tremendous potential – as both a watersport centre AND a general amenity for the people of Edinburgh and beyond.
That said, whilst the site has potential, it’s in such poor shape today – so realising that potential will take time and money.
4 However, for now – I think it’s fair to say – our concern for the future of the site has been replaced by cautious optimism.
Of course, this process has yet to run its course.
Critically (and understandably), the paper doesn’t set out the commercial terms on which the site will be offered.
Clearly, if they’re pitched wrong, the project will founder.
Time will tell.
If the plan comes to fruition, the stakeholders will be able – for the first time in living memory – to take a long term view.
Energy, initiative and, crucially, investment can blossom.
5 I said in my introduction, we think your officials are doing a good job. We realise that leasing off a high mileage, second hand marina isn’t something they’re doing every day. That said, they seem to be picking their way through it just fine so far. Well done to them.
6 I mentioned working together. We have two areas of interest:-
6.1 The impact of VAT. I admit to having an imperfect understanding of what’s possible here. But I’m being told a commercial operator would end up having to increase charges at the marina not just to cover the investment that we all want to see but also because of VAT.
We have a question……and I’m not sure if it’s an offer…..or maybe it’s a request!
My question ……Is there some way of getting our group alongside the new operator and using our Community status to engineer some form of Charitable structure to legitimately take us out of VAT?
My request….. can we have this conversation with your officials/advisers?
6.2 The new bridge. P Edgar is in desperate need of three things; three things that would transform the site, namely
– a wave barrier (not the tyres)
– and better/proper road access.
Over the next few years (and in the case of dredging, the next few months), equipment and staff will be doing all this kind of work just a few hundred yards away.
At negligible cost to the bridge builders, they could do some work at P Edgar that would transform the site. In so doing they would leave a legacy for not just the people who’ll suffer the inconvenience and disruption their work will cause for years to come but also the people of central Scotland.
It looks such an obvious win/win.
So, my two questions;
– do you share this view ?
– and, if you do, how can we work together to take it forward?
This looks like a golden opportunity. It would be a shame to let it slip by.
7 Finally, once again, thank you for the opportunity to speak.
I wish you every success.
I’ll finish by saying …….you are the salt in our stew.
I realise, compared to many of the issues facing you, this is a modest undertaking. But for some folk this is a major concern.