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Harbour could be under local control

PUBLISHED: 10:44 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:28 05 July 2010

Historic Southwold harbour, the subject of an ownership dispute for more than five years, could soon be under the management of local people.

The harbour has been run by Waveney District Council since the 1970s, but the town council has been battling for several years to get it signed back over to residents.

Historic Southwold harbour, the subject of an ownership dispute for more than five years, could soon be under the management of local people.

The harbour has been run by Waveney District Council since the 1970s, but the town council has been battling for several years to get it signed back over to residents.

The dispute over the land began in 2003 when Waveney declared it wanted to sell the caravan site at the harbour, saying it would cost too much money to bring it up to modern standards. The suggestion angered local people, caravan owners and harbour users, who said the land had been left in trust to the people of Southwold and was not the council's to sell.

Southwold Town Council has been pushing Waveney to sign over the harbour ever since, and now a meeting is finally being arranged to set the details in order.

The district council announced last month that it would hand some of its assets, such as the open-air swimming pools at Beccles and Halesworth and Halesworth Rifle Hall, back to town councils from next spring because they cost too much to run and maintain.

Although Waveney decided in September 2004 that Southwold harbour should be handed back to the people of the town, the proposals to get rid of other leisure facilities in the district have prompted the council to push for the handover to take place within the next few months.

Simon Tobin, a district and town councillor, is hopeful that Waveney will give the town council a formal letter of intent signing over the harbour soon. He said: “We're hoping to have a meeting at the end of the month; we are in the process of getting everyone together to finalise it.”

The town council announced in July that it hoped to set up a trust to run the harbour and to ensure that profits from the camping and cara-van site stayed in the community.

As well as working to improve the harbour and maintain the facilities, the trustees would help to campaign against the Environment Agency's plans to abandon flood defences at Tinker's Marsh, which would increase the amount of water held in the estuary and potentially worsen erosion of the harbour walls.

A Waveney spokesman said it had confirmed with the town council its commitment to moving the project forward and returning the area to local management.

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