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.
- 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.