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Rent rise takes the wind out of club's sails

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

  • St Ives Sailing Club rents a rear section of the Sloop Inn car park from Cornwall Council. Picture: Scott Hamilton.

Comments (12)

ST IVES Sailing Club has accused Cornwall Council of "holding it to ransom" after the authority threatened what the club says is a 600 per cent hike in boat storage fees.

In a row that has been bubbling for more than a year – but has until now seen the club remain tight-lipped – the sailing club says it is being ordered to pay an extra £2,500 on top of harbour and other fees.

The club, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, has gone public about what it says are Cornwall Council's "rapacious" attempts to "extort extra income" from them.

A message from the club's Simon Ashmore on the St Ives Sailing Club website said: "This small but perfectly formed club believe that we should not accept this from our elected representatives and their officers and that the time has come to take a stand.

"Other harbour-users will be next. If we vacate the small space that we currently occupy, the council's intention (on which they base the income which they would have us believe they have no option but to chase) would be to park more cars. One has to wonder what will be left for the visitors to the town to come and see."

St Ives Sailing Club operates from a small storage pen and shed behind the harbour in The Sloop car park.

Cornwall Council approached St Ives Sailing Club about increasing its fees in September 2012.

The proposed increase was understood to be based on the revenue the authority could earn by giving over the club's space to car parking.

At the time, The Cornishman understands, committee members hoped to compromise.

Now they have gone public with a searing attack on the council after they say all their suggestions were rejected.

Mr Ashmore is urging people to write to councillors and MP Andrew George and also to e-mail memories of the club to campaign@stivessailingclub.com

Mr Ashmore wrote: "We do our best to make sailing affordable to locals rather than the preserve of the wealthy. An unwarranted hike of this nature would quite simply close down our small club and put another nail in the coffin of this historic maritime community."

A Cornwall Council spokesman said: "St Ives Sailing Club occupies part of the Sloop car park on a year-to-year basis. Cornwall Council is keen to offer a more secure ten-year arrangement at a rent that reflects the value of the opportunity.

"The current rent figures being discussed would see the rent increase over a four-year period but not by 600 per cent as suggested. The rents being proposed reflect the value of the opportunity being offered but the council is also seeking to take into account the ability of the club to pay the rent.

"While we recognise the concerns expressed by the club, the proposed sum will still be a discount on the market value of the land.

"The significant cut in the council's funding means the rent holidays and discounts the club has previously enjoyed are simply not affordable any more. The club have released their accounts to us and we continue to discuss the matter with them."

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  • FromUpNorth  |  March 10 2014, 10:01PM

    As regular summer visitors to St Ives we would like to add our voice to those supporting the sailing club in their campaign to remain a viable club in their current location. The sailing club are one of the many reasons that the harbour is such an attraction, so much so that the working harbour is quoted by This is Cornwall, the official tourism web site for the county, as one of the main reasons to visit St Ives. A working harbour relies on a wide range of users to be maintained and the sailing club pays its dues to the harbour authority and adds significantly to the vibrancy and attraction of the harbour. Cornwall County Council should consider all the potential issues in this situation and its short-sighted attempt to recoup a relatively tiny amount of its mismanaged budget could easily lead to the beginning of the decline of one of St Ives' key attractions. The Council has a duty to support businesses and organisations that add value rather than trying to close them down, and the sailing club adds considerable value to the harbour. The sailing club is an integral part of the harbour, working alongside many other users to support and maintain the harbour. It should also be noted that several members of the club are linked closely to the Lifeboat and their expert skills and knowledge of local sea conditions gained through the club are important to this crucial life-saving facility. We have been fortunate to sail with the club and to support the club by helping out on the safety boat and in the tower, essentially for the price of a couple of t-shirts. We can testify to the welcoming and encouraging nature of the club and its members, this is no elitist yacht club. The facilities are sparse, much kit needs replacement and the club runs on the goodwill of its members. This club should be supported to provide an essential facility for the town and a valuable attraction for visitors. The next generation of lifeboatmen may well begin their love and understanding of the sea through clubs like these. I would urge Cornwall Council to think beyond the simple sums of a few extra car park spaces and consider the wider implications and responsibilities of maintaining a vibrant and attractive harbour scene.

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  • westwelsh  |  March 04 2014, 8:12PM

    The question is simple. Is this a Cornish club for local Cornish people, if so it deserves funding from our Country of Kernow. Is it a club for incommers or visitors? If so let them fund it themselves, or take it back into ownership by our country for our people.

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  • Lanhams  |  March 02 2014, 5:48PM

    Reading some of the comments I think some people think that this is just moans from a wealthy club like the ones in Cowes. To put this in context, Ive sailed with the club a few times and what they are is a group of local sporting enthusiasts who love to race low cost old boats and also put on events to let youngsters learn about the sport. They have also worked with the local doctors to take vulnerable people out to sea to experience the joy of being on the water. What they are not is a bunch of gin swilling rich boat owners, they have no clubhouse, just a few square yards of boat storage and a glorified garden shed to change in, no showers not even running water. For the council to charge such an extortionate rent for the tiny space with no facilities is ridiculous.

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  • SaltPier  |  March 01 2014, 3:53PM

    Derekhallstiv is right to show some of these misconceptions for what they are. The Sailing Club runs mostly on its members' goodwill and massive amounts of volunteered time. We sail small dinghies, many of which have seen better days, and which can be picked up for next to nothing if required. Dinghy sailing isn't a rich person's sport. The space we have is indeed tiny, and is paid for by the small group of people (15 - 20 people, I believe) who store their dinghies in the pen. Also stored in the pen are club boats (including sailboats, surfboards and kayaks) that visitors, locals and tourists can take out. And then there's space for the safety boat and launching tractor, so that anyone who comes to use the sailing club's facilities can do so in safety. An increase of thousands of pounds per year, split between the small number of people who cover the cost of storage, would very quickly become unaffordable and untenable. One of St. Ives' well-loved recreational and sporting facilities would disappear overnight. One significant issue that Cornwall Council have missed is that the Sailing Club provides a huge amount of amenity for the town and surrounding areas. If we were to properly value the cost of this amenity, most of the cost would be 'staff time' - the hundreds and hundreds of hours that Club members put in to keep the Club running. The 'real financial' costs of running the Sailing Club would dwarf the extra amount the council are demanding by a factor of 10. But of course, club members are not paid. We volunteer our time, we do it for free. Cornwall Council has on its doorstep a brilliant example of a vibrant, well-run, community-led organisation that has immense human value and attracts tourists to the town. And it wants to close us down for the sake, it seems, of a principle. St. Ives sailing club is not some elite, exclusive institution. We are a very inclusive club who welcome anyone, whether you've lived here all your life or are just here for the week. There is an enthusiasm to get you onto the water and enjoying yourself. If you're not convinced, come down to the club pen any Wednesday evening or Saturday afternoon from Easter onwards, and see how easy it is to come sailing with us.

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  • Derekhallstiv  |  March 01 2014, 1:04PM

    St ives sailing club is a small club, crammed into a tiny space, with costs which make it the most expensive in the area by far per member. Despite that it thrives and provides the opportunity for people to sails dinghies (not yachts as some must be assuming from the comments) in st ives, not just the members who bear the brunt of the cost, but also visitors who can rent the Club boats, local children who the club members have taught to sail over the years, and the club is now training it's members to take handicapped sailors out on the water and is talking to Cornwall blind association to see how it can help. If it gets closed down by a massive hike in charges from a council who are supposed to be supporting sport in the community, it will be a terrible loss to our town

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  • Jumb001  |  March 01 2014, 12:29AM

    Oh bravo, RichardWales! Yes, what we really need is a Nandos and a KFC along the harbour, and a McDonalds in behind the Sloop. Maybe the Tate could be turned into a LaserQuest or a strip club. Then our town could be just like the bland, identikit, monotonous little place that RichardWales lives. At least he wouldn't find his visits here so culturally threatening. Seriously though - we love seeing the sailing boats out in the harbour of a weekend, and so do our customers. Good luck with your campaign guys!

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  • RichardWales  |  February 28 2014, 10:53PM

    WHY JUST A CAR PARK? The last time I visited your town, I noticed an absence of decent national takeaway restaurant chains along the seafront. Instead of building another car park, why don't the council bite the bullet and allow this void to be filled by allowing proper commercial development of this site as such? This would happen anywhere else in the country. As well as providing much-needed jobs to the local economy, the ratepayers would save a few pence and I'm sure it'd be popular among locals and tourists alike. The Sailing club need to stop selfishly clinging to the past - your town's so-called 'local identity' is overrated and has to be weighed up against today's economic realities. Time to move on!

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  • GodrevyBuoy  |  February 28 2014, 8:17PM

    Great to see the comments above about the sailing club. When I came to St Ives I was fortunate to come into the club to learn to sail. I could not have been made more welcome. This sport is not elitist. I don't have a boat but sail a club boat which is available for hire. We welcome anyone of any ability who wants to sail in this fantastic location. You can sail with an experienced local sailor or hire a boat if you are more experienced. It is great that the local councillors and MP support the club in its efforts to set a reasonable rent that will keep this local sporting club around for another 40 years. The compound is the only place that the sailing boats can be kept. There is a long waiting list if you wanted to keep a boat in the harbour. Cornwall Council want to set the rates at a commercial rate. This is just a sports club run by local people. What next, tarmac over the football and rugby pitches and paint white lines on them. When something is gone in my experience you never get it back. Please don't let Cornwall Council rip the heart out of our communities. Listen to Jodi Mitchell's 'Big Yellow Taxi' . Pave paradise and put in a parking lot. Not here thanks !

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  • pzsail  |  February 28 2014, 7:55PM

    This is outrageous. SHAME ON YOU CORNWALL COUNCIL. St Ives sailors and their visitors and guests currently pay more for boat storage than any other sailing club in the west of Cornwall because of the councils insistence on valuing land according to the money they could make by turning it into a car park. Is this sound financial management? Are we happy to let our councillors assess the things we value like this? Watch out, people of Penwith...they'll be coming for your parks, playgrounds, open spaces, ancient monuments next. And do we really need or want more car parks? I find the councils argument narrow-minded and specious. The sailors in St Ives are a part of the town scene, they welcome visitors and holiday-makers, they help disabled people to sail, they are an inclusive and wonderful part of all the things that make St Ives a great place to live and visit. In short, they have VALUE beyond what the councils bean counters could ever comprehend. Please think about what kind of world you would live in if the people in charge valued everything you love in terms of the opportunity cost of a car park. And then write to the council and tell them what you think of their inhuman and incompetent approach to running the place.

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  • Fiona_Mell  |  February 28 2014, 5:55PM

    I think your council should be supporting anything that helps to make Cornwall the unique place it is. A lot of people's livelihoods in Cornwall depend on tourism, and turning assets into car-parks is effectively shooting yourself in the foot. Perhaps 'Gruesome' thinks the council should stop wasting his/her council tax on maintaining the beaches, concrete them over and park cars on them? And what about all his/her council tax wasted on the upkeep of the coastal paths, just so people who can afford walking boots can enjoy their hobby? My family and friends come to Cornwall for the sea, and the boats, and the coastal experience. My husband sailed with St. Ives sailing club a couple of summers ago. The first week they took him out in a larger boat to 'show him the ropes'. The next weekend they let him use a smaller dinghy for, I think, five pounds. He says they couldn't have been more friendly or welcoming. It made his holiday. Thinking about returning this year, we came across this story, and are now considering a holiday abroad, somewhere where seaside activities are actually supported. I think it's idiotic of your council to close down amenities like this. By making Cornwall a less attractive place to holiday, they are effectively 'saving' public money by stealing it from the pockets of local hoteliers, restauranteurs, holiday-lets, pubs, and all the associated small businesses who rely on the tourist pound, and who will suffer when tourists like us stop coming. So short-sighted, and such a shame.

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