Urgent work approved for harbour

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ANGUS Council has agreed to deal with the dredging of Arbroath Harbour as a matter of urgency following a meeting on Monday.

An executive sub-committee of the infrastructure services committee approved a tender by the firm Open Water Dredging.

The sub-committee agreed to contract Open Water Dredging to carry out urgent work to remove 3,000 cubic metres of silt from the outer harbour entrance and the RNLI slipway at a cost of £86,000.

Councillor Mairi Evans chaired the executive sub-committee which approved the report’s recommendations, and was confident work would begin shortly.

She said: “I spoke to the head of roads about that on Monday. We’re hoping that will happen within the next week.”

Angus Council has submitted an application to the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for a matching grant to offset costs. If successful, this would lower their outlay to £43,000.

Additionally, if EFF match funding can be secured it would make it possible to carry out a comprehensive dredging of the whole harbour, removing approximately 8,250 cubic metres of silt, with Angus Council only paying £82,500.

The council have obtained a licence from Marine Scotland to dump this debris at a site four kilometres offshore.

However, funding is not certain. Councillor Evans added: “Well that’s the thing. We’re really not too sure whether we’ll be successful or not. It’s just important to get the harbour dredged as soon as possible.

“At the end of the day, if the council have to foot the bill then so be it.”

It was reported at a meeting of the Arbroath Harbour sub-committee in April that as a result of dredging maintenance ending in December 2010 there were difficulties launching the RNLIB ‘Inchcape’ at low spring tide.

Prior to this, dredging maintenance had been sub-contracted to Moray Council’s dredger ‘Shearwater’, but following it’s decommissioning work ended.

The contract was put out to tender, but only two tenders were submitted, the lowest of which was £690,000, far in excess of the £150,000 ring-fenced by Angus Council for the job.

Independent councillor Bob Spink, a member of the Harbour sub-committee, said: “Clearly that came as a shock and in the circumstances was deemed an unacceptable cost by Angus Council.

“It did however satisfy the council’s financial regulations in openly advertising such a contract, and it made a case for looking directly for a contractor but required formal exemption from the financial regulations to do so.

“It is this exemption from the council’s financial regulations that was sought on Monday, to allow things to progress as speedily as possible.

“This was put to an executive sub-committee of three elected members drawn from the parent infrastructure services committee, which is correct procedure during the council summer recess when a matter arises requiring urgent attention.”