Duchy Launches Public Consultation On Harbour Changes

st marys quay 2014The Duchy of Cornwall wants your views on proposals to change the governance arrangements at St Mary’s Harbour. Their second round of consultation opens today.

They announced their intention to transfer operations to a new body back in August.

The Duchy has been the statutory harbour authority on St Mary’s since the 1890’s.

Land Steward Chris Gregory says the first round of consultation, with the major stakeholders, took place during the autumn.

Now the public will be able to have their say. Hard copies of the documents are being placed in St Mary’s library and the off-island reading rooms, while a downloadable version will be on the harbour website.

There’ll also be an event held on the 19th and 20th January at The Mermaid where you can talk to Chris and others involved in the proposals on a 1-to-1 basis.

Chris says the document outlines the three main options for the harbour – becoming a ‘trust port’, allowing the local authority to operate it as a municipal facility or putting it into private hands.

He says creating a trust port is likely to be the most popular approach.

The document also looks at how the harbour can be made financially viable under any new arrangement. The Duchy has already stated that they would transfer over, or provide long leases on, any necessary infrastructure.

But there will be challenges.

Chris says it’s rare that a new trust port is created from scratch. The Duchy suggests forming an interim board with three commissioners who will then set up the structures and appoint a full-time board of up to seven members.

Chris says they’ll need to balance local experience with the right technical expertise when appointing to those roles.

He says it’s a long process but hopefully most people will have expressed their views by the end of February.

The Duchy will then need to gather those together and present a proposal to the Marine Management Organisation, followed by a further round of consultation. If there are no major points of conflict, then the interim board could be in place by the middle of the year.

Chris says the Duchy is keen to put in place the new governance model because they feel the old one is anachronistic and no longer relevant.

When they took on the role almost 130 years ago, he says the islands were 100% owned by the Duchy. Now only 25% of residents live in Duchy properties.

And Chris feels with the current upgrades being made to the facility, now is the right time to hand it over to a new body.



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