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Experience: We can make it work

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

John Bennett, chairman of Hayle Harbour Trust.

John Bennett, chairman of Hayle Harbour Trust.

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John Bennett, chairman of Hayle Harbour Trust, says the running of the harbour should be transferred to a community group.

IN THE near future ING will consult on handing over the running of Hayle Harbour to a community body. The Hayle Harbour Trust is willing to take on this important and challenging task.

Back when Peter de Savary's plans failed, the harbour was almost purchased by a local group that included two of our current trustees, Robb Lello and Andrew George (now MP). Unfortunately, that group lost out at the last minute to Rosshill and Carruthers. The harbour continued to deteriorate, including years of selling off our 'three miles of golden sands'.

In 2004, after Rosshill defaulted, ING acquired the harbour and has since spent considerable time and money to gain planning consent to profitably develop it. Why did this take so long? Because ING's initial plans did not involve the community nor offer any benefits for the people of Hayle – and it continued selling the sand.

To get ING's attention, in early 2010 the Hayle Residents' Association called a well-attended public meeting. This led to the creation of the charitable Hayle Harbour Trust with a mandate to be ready to take over some or all of the harbour to benefit Hayle's residents.

Active engagement began after Cornwall Council's strategic planning committee voted in early 2011 to defer ING's supermarket planning application, allowing around six months for negotiation. By the time it returned to the planning committee, ING had agreed to transfer Hayle Harbour to a community body together with 100 acres of land – including East Quay, Lelant Quay and the Spit. Also in the package were the restoration of sluicing at Carnsew and the establishment of a World Heritage Site levy on all homes and businesses built in the harbour area, which would generate about £200,000 a year. Trust members played a major role in negotiating these benefits. We also signed an agreement with ING that allowed us to clean up the path to the railway station and uncover the historic sand drag. More recently, we applied for £1.6 million in grants to renovate East Quay and the Stable Block on North Quay.

Another option is for Cornwall Council to run the harbour, which it would do competently. However, Cornwall Council is unlikely to take on the land, which would again deteriorate.

While we would like to work co-operatively with Cornwall Council, we believe a Hayle organisation with links to the harbour would work best. Our team has years of combined harbour-related experience. Hayle Harbour Trust is established and ready to start running the harbour for the community's benefit. Additional trustees would be appointed for their skills, and democratic control would be exercised by a stakeholder body consisting of harbour users and elected members.

As a registered charity, our trustees receive no benefits and we have self-funded all costs. Two of us also serve on the Harvey's Foundry Trust, now almost ten years old and fully sustainable. We can make the harbour work.

Along with our 800-plus friends on Facebook, we hope the people of Hayle will support the Hayle Harbour Trust.

For information visit www. hayleharbourtrust.org.uk

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