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People with passion for harbour needed

PUBLISHED: 13:26 24 October 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 05 July 2010

YEARS of frustration for campaigners determined to protect Southwold's historic harbour area are coming to an end as a new management team is being formed.

YEARS of frustration for campaigners determined to protect Southwold's historic harbour area are coming to an end as a new management team is being formed.

Critics claim that the harbour area has suffered in recent years from under-investment and that millions of pounds will be needed to safeguard the future of the harbour, businesses, caravan and camping park and car parks in an area that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

One of the priorities is to repair the crumbling harbour wall as it is in a critical condition and in danger of collapse unless vital investment is secured.

Land around the harbour, a caravan park, marshes and roads leading into the town would all be put under threat if the wall is allowed to fall into the sea, town leaders warned on Wednesday.

They spoke out after another major hurdle was cleared in the campaign to have the management of the harbour handed back to Southwold Town Council from Waveney District Council.

The town council has now received a letter of intent from Waveney District Council, meaning a new trust can be set up to run the harbour on behalf of the town.

Backers insist a dedicated and more local management structure will open the doors to new funding opportunities and improve conditions at the harbour.

Three weeks ago, a new crack measuring 4ft appeared in the wall and the cost of general repair and regeneration work at the harbour has been estimated at £5m.

Simon Tobin, a district and town councillor for Southwold, said: “The wall is in a horrific condition … and could fall in at any time. The roll-on effect of the wall going would be dramatic.

“This would affect the whole harbour, the caravan site and into Southwold. The repair of that would cost multi-millions and not just £5m. Its critical we get on with the trust.”

Fellow district and town councillor Sue Allen added: “If we get a bad winter, then God help us. The thing that is most needed is a new harbour wall; it is in a terrible state.

“It's not been looked after and is about to fall in.”

The town council is looking for people to become trustees of the Southwold Harbour Lands Trust, which is due to be up and running by March.

A limited liability company will then be set up to take on the day-to-day management of the harbour and adjoining caravan park, which is also set for major improvement work.

Mrs Allen revealed that Waveney District Council would still be committing resources to the harbour and was seeking European funding to help carry out repair work.

Dougie Dorrington, chairman of the Southwold Caravan Owners Association, said: “It has been an extremely frustrating time for everyone who cares about the caravan park and harbour area. We should have been at this stage four years ago and the delay has added to the problems the harbour area faces.”

Town mayor Teresa Baggott said: “We need this to get the trust formed.

“It is very important to the town and allows us to move forward, which is what we intend to do.”

Mrs Baggott added that potential trustees should have a passion for Southwold and its harbour.

They should apply, by November 21, to town clerk Jenny Hursell on 01502 722576, or by emailing southwold.tc@ virgin.net

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