Harbour must be opened up for activities other than fishing

IT is clear from Mr Wall’s comments in last week’s press that he is in fact unwittingly making the case for the harbour to be opened up for other than just commercial fishing activity.

Commercial fishing from the harbour is in decline, even Mr Wall admits this himself. To quote his own words “At its zenith the harbour supported six working fishing boats and now three.”

The harbour cannot sustain itself from fishing activity alone and is highly unlikely to do so in the future. It would also seem that the members of the Fisherman’s Society have little confidence in there being a revival of fishing activity. The future of fishing relies on retiring fisherman being replaced by younger men.

There is little evidence of this happening and with a closed membership all above retirement age and a minority of them fisherman, the Fisherman’s Society can hardly be said to be an organization encouraging this to happen.

Indeed the society itself is unlikely to exist for very much longer, as structured it will certainly have gone before the 30 years or more that Mr Wall writes about. His claim that property development secures the future of the fishing industry is simplistic and does not take into account the realities of the real world.

Mr Wall is so focused on property development that he has done absolutely nothing and never intended to do anything to try to increase the harbour’s income by using the spare capacity that it has.

This is why he steadfastly refuses to face the fact that the time has come for the harbour to cater for other kinds of boating activity along with fishing. Adapting to changing circumstances is what Sir John Craster would have wished and is moreover essential.

It would ensure that the harbour continues to be a fully-utilised, working facility as Sir John and we all desire and will at the same time preserve the integrity of the coastal land that by covenant he intended to be protected.

Mr Wall goes on to state: “The society has a well-thought-out plan to look after the harbour for the next 30 years and hopefully well beyond that.”

These proposals however are a betrayal of Sir John Craster’s wishes and of those of us who truly cherish the beauty and heritage of Beadnell.

Sir John’s vision was that the harbour should be a fully-utilised facility and not simply “looked after” and he certainly did not intend that the land that he gifted to Beadnell’s fishermen should be needlessly destroyed for the benefit of property developers.

Mr Wall also says “Beadnell without a working harbour would be lost.” This is perfectly true but it is in fact Mr Wall’s proposals that condemn the harbour to being ‘lost’ as a working facility.

Mr Wall’s ‘great vision’ is that the habour will continue into the future as a useable but little-used facility maintained on subsidies derived from the development of the fisherman’s coastal land.

The air of dereliction that the harbour now has would continue until all the land owned by the Fisherman’s Society has been developed. Does this scenario really encourage tourism? And what then? The harbour will inevitably be opened up to other users.

Mr Wall then falsely compares the situation of Beadnell’s harbour with that of Craster. Beadnell’s harbour is at the centre of an area of burgeoning boat activity with the consequent demand for the use of harbour facilities.

The demand for use of these facilities is being deliberately denied at Beadnell in order to ensure that the harbour has a small deficit each year. Does Mr Wall really think that a similar demand for the use of harbour facilities would be denied at Craster?

He then makes the banal plea that because other developers have been allowed to destroy so much of Beadnell’s natural assets he should be allowed to do likewise.

Finally, he resorts to scare tactics. He alludes to the very rare event of a super storm that could destroy the harbour.

What he does not say is that his proposals could not cover the cost of such an eventuality and indeed were never intended to do so and that the main defences of the harbour are not in any case the responsibility of the Fisherman’s Society.

Make no mistake this is a carefully orchestrated assault on what little remains of Beadnell’s protected coastal land that will only cease when it has all been buried under concrete. This desecration of Beadnell’s remaining assets must at all cost be prevented.

G Wilde,

Harbour Road, Beadnell