Harbour proposal – A report from the Meeting.

A Harbour at Freshwater Bay? by Oliver Harvey

It was standing room only, with 200+ people filling the function room at the public meeting held Sunday 25th September at The Sandpipers Hotel , to discuss a proposal for a harbour at Freshwater Bay.
The meeting called by Mr.Dick Downes, an Atherfield resident and fisherman, was to determine initial feelings towards the proposal. (details of his proposal can be seen below)
The Freshwater town counciller Mr.George Cameron conducted the meeting with Mr.Downes.
The councillor, (who confessed he was in favour of the proposal ) kept the room, which was at times a little rowdy, in-order and tried to hear everyone’s opinion fairly – but not before a show of hands requested by one attendee at the start of the meeting, quickly established the rooms overwhelming objection.
Objections came from Freshwater residents, holiday home owners, fisherman, local businesses & surfers alike.

They included:

  • The loss of a facility used by a multitude of people for the use of a few
  • The visual impact to an area of outstanding beauty
  • A harbour would mean stagnant water and strong smell like seen at Ventnor
  • The proposed harbour wall height would not be sufficient to offer any protection in big swells – one that would offer protection would have to be 15ft tall.
  • The complete loss of a surfing wave – touted as one of the best on the south coast of the UK

Those in favour were few and far between, with the only reason given for support was, it would help the launching the Lifeboat boat.
Mr.Downes heard and responded to most points taken in a considered & good natured way and even on some points of objection, he concurred.
If the meeting was obtain opinion from the local residents and to determine, if the proposal should move forward – a vote for this was demanded from the audience.
With approx 95% of the room in opposition –the audience felt another meeting is not needed in the future and the proposal should be forgotten about.
At the end of the meeting Mr.Downes was presented a photograph of Freshwater Bay (taken by local resident & photographer, Paul Blackley) to remind him of its inherent beauty and the fact it is area of natural outstanding beauty.

5 Responses to “Harbour proposal – A report from the Meeting.”

  1. edd thompson says:

    I Dont trust these people one bit, keep a sharp look out.

  2. pacey says:

    About five people are for the harbour, so cameron wants another meeting, its a joke! 200 against!, 5 for it! That should of been it but no Cameron wants to drag this ridiculous idea on! Who voted for this guy? Very upsetting indeed!!!

  3. helen mccarty says:

    certaintly seems strange that apparently this was Dick Downes idea and he doesn’t want to take this any further but Mr George Cameron wants more meetings, makes you think doesn’t it, who is it that really wants it !!!!

  4. paul-wsh says:

    Message from Mr J. Willis

    When it was announced that Ventnor would be getting a harbour I was probably one of those that thought it was a good idea. This was in 2003 and now I’m not so sure. The main problem is that the build up of seaweed is is so vast and so quick that it’s very difficult to control. I live in the town and at low tide with the wind in the right direction the smell of rotting seaweed is so bad you can’t sit in the garden. This is O.K because I was never really one for sitting in the garden. I preferred to sit on the seafront. Now when the seaweed is at it its worst I can’t even do that. I’ve seen tourists hurry past covering their noses with whatever comes to hand. So, somebody had a problem but nobody wanted to pay for it. In the end the council stepped in I think. The last figure I’d heard they have spent shifting it was £12,000 but who knows. But shifting it where and when? At the moment they employ one JCB and two dumpers. At the lowest tide the digger scoops it up and fills the dumpers on a relay. They then drive three hundred yards along the revetment and dump it back into the sea. The knock on effect is that it washes up at two more of the most beautiful bays that I moved onto using when the smell got too bad. Wheelers Bay and Monks Bay. I’ve snorkelled Wheelers Bay for over ten years just for the fascination of watching fish in their own environment. The fish have declined every year since and this year has been the worst. I asked a local fisherman how the fishing had been and his reply was ‘would you live in that?’. Sometimes it is like a cesspool at Wheelers Bay and this fisherman said he given up putting his nets out because of the weed. When the clearance of this seaweed is carried out is also at the mercy of nature. I recently arranged for a friend of mine to have her honeymoon in Ventnor. It was a gloriously hot and sunny bank holiday weekend. She was married in Newport and then brought everybody involved to Ventnor seafront to have fish and chips while the children played in the paddling pool opposite the harbour. If I’d known they were going to be digging it out on a bank holiday weekend I’d have sent them somewhere else. The noise from the heavy plant being used, the diesel from the dumpers that passed us every three minutes and the dust they kicked up was beyond belief. In hindsight I would say that if you enjoy the peace and tranquillity, the natural environment and wildlife that Freshwater Bay has right now then leave it alone.

  5. Billy Wavell says:

    Shocking proposal, who do these council and fishernippers think they are messing with our birthright as Island Surfers. The ocean is our playground. 200 plus people pay council taxes to provide recreational space, not destroy it. BW Canada BC.

Leave a Reply