Sitting in the Harbour Office is a little device known as an Opinion Meter. People visiting the Office can use it to record what they think of the harbour and its facilities. Some results for this year have just become available and they make encouraging reading.
So far, the weather this year has been better than either of the last two. Visitor yacht numbers are keeping up and may even stem the year-on-year decline which has been going on for five years or more. During that time Salcombe seemed to acquire a reputation for having poor facilities, being expensive and poor value for money.
So it is good that 83% of people (up from 56%) have noticed improvements in facilities and service and 75% (up from 60% last year) consider the harbour to be value for money. 83% (up from 75%) consider the harbour staff welcoming and friendly and 90% (up from 84%) say they will consider using the harbour again.
Our efforts to try to tackle speeding also seem to be paying off – as I saw myself when the Harbour Master, in his uniform as Commander RN, rode his rib to intercept a fast-moving Sunseeker. Speeding and anti-social behaviour now mar the enjoyment of 37% of harbour users (down from 54%), and 85% (up from 75%) now consider Salcombe to be a safe harbour.
All this is good news. A harbour which people enjoy is so valuable to the local community, to jobs and careers, and to the Harbour Board’s ability to continue to improve facilities.
There is, however, one matter we must attend to. About a third of people who used the Opinion Meter say that they have been the victim of marine crime over the last year. Surveys like this always give a much higher crime rate than official statistics because most crime is not reported. But not knowing the detail makes it difficult to stop the crime and it takes only one or two offenders to generate a sackload of offences. So we will almost certainly have to do some delving to find out just what is going on so that we can get to grips with this crime.
But the main message is that the facilities of Salcombe are seen to be improving and the reputation of Salcombe as a harbour is likely to be improving with this.