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Difficult times, difficult decisions

The autumn is when the Harbour’s infrastructure gets maintained and the moorings lifted and inspected. It is also when the Harbour Board looks at how the finances have turned out and sets a fresh budget, fees and charges for next year. It is, of course, pretty problematic to foresee what may happen next year and equally difficult to work out whether to freeze everything, or to plan ahead as usual. In the end, the Board opted for business as usual, so there will be modest increases, enabling the now customary passing of quite large sums into reserves. But a new feature will be some provision to assist those local marine businesses which are suffering hardship.

Van Oorde dredger

The Harbour’s reserves are not a piggy-bank “just in case”. They are built up systematically because it is known with some certainty when the pontoons will need replacement, the Harbour will require dredging, or the boat lift or harbour barge will need replacement – each of which costs a five or six-figure sum – but then the nature of running harbours is that all the infrastructure is subject to highly corrosive salt water. I should add that, Covid restrictions permitting, it is planned that dredging, which now takes place routinely every 4-5 years, will happen in the early part of 2021.

Crime or anti-social behaviour has been a pain this year, prompted by two things. Schools being shut during a heatwave seemed to be associated with small boats and kayaks at New Bridge being requisitioned as transport to nearby moored boats, which were then used as diving platforms. In a low crime area as few as half a dozen miscreants can generate what looks like a crime wave. The second cause was, strangely, the closing of the Millbrook Inn in the early part of the summer. This appears to have led to a significant increase in evening speeding back and forth to Kingsbridge.  I suppose the up-side was that Southpool creek will have been a great deal quieter. I might add that the trend for open-water swimming seems to have spread to Batson creek, where it can get in the way of boats: new signage will be used to discourage this.

I wrote last month about the part being played by fishing in the Brexit negotiations. Nearer home, it is good to be able to report that the Salcombe fishing fleet has managed to keep going throughout the summer. The prices have not been great, indeed they are low relative to the summer before last, but at least the crab processing and export have been able to carry on as normal.

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