More delays keep new harbour authority plan adrift

Oban Bay

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Campaigners wanting a new community-led harbour authority for Oban have slammed Argyll and Bute Council for being ‘determined to stop it’.

Oban Community Harbour Development Association (OCHDA)  has spent the last three years proving that a single trust port run by an independent board would be the best option but says after all that time the council still can not make its mind up whether or not to support it.

Today, Thursday September 2, members of Argyll and Bute Harbour Board, will meet online to hear officers advise that more time is needed yet to look over what options are available – including doing nothing – before a decision can finally be made on the preferred way forward.

There is no sole control over the bay at the moment, with various organisations having responsibilities for different parts of it.

OCHDA claims after years of delays and decisions over setting up a new harbour authority, council officers have ‘kicked’ the issue ‘down the road ‘ again.

The group insists an independently-run harbour authority would be the safest option for all water-users in the bay, save council money and would offer significant long-term benefits to the town.

And it regards council officers’ advice being given to Argyll and Bute Harbour Board to be ‘inconsistent, incomplete and inaccurate, and therefore potentially misleading’.

OCHDA chairman John MacAlister said: ‘It’s incredible – after all this time they still can’t make a decision!

‘OCHDA has clearly shown the advantages of a trust port. It’s the safest
option, it is financially do-able and in everyone’s interests and that’s what the community of Oban wants, but the council seems determined to stop it.’

The risk of a serious incident occurring in the harbour is increasing as traffic in the bay
grows and it is increasingly urgent to establish an effective, simple-to-understand
management system to keep water users safe and make them welcome in Oban, says OCHDA, which is worried that near misses in the harbour continue to happen on a regular basis and any one of them could become a serious incident.

‘Despite clear support from the public for the establishment of a trust port, operated by its own independent board and based on existing council facilities on the North Pier, Argyll and Bute Council is continuing to slow down the process.

‘Developing a trust port to run the new harbour authority is a win-win for the council and for the community of Oban. We have shown this clearly and we now need the council to work with us to complete the process and help us submit these proposals to the Scottish Government rather than trying to slow the process down,’ added Mr MacAlister.

A council spokesperson said: ‘We are taking the steps needed to reach the right option for the future of Oban Bay. We welcome OCHDA’s involvement in the process and note their enthusiasm for their preferred option. There are, however, a number of possible options and as a council we must consider fully the interests of Oban as a whole in order to reach the right decision for the town, its communities and businesses in the longer term.’