OPPOSITION Councillor Donald Morrison has joined the debate about the public slipway proposed by the Angus Alliance administration at Arbroath Harbour.
The proposal is that the public can have the use of the slip used by Mackay Boatbuilders, when it is not in use by this thriving local business.
However, much dissension has been raised by the plan, which many regular harbour-users feel is not feasible, and would lead ultimately to negative publicity about Arbroath’s leisure facilities.
Alliance councillor David Fairweather has strongly criticised those who had previously urged that a slipway be created and who have suggested that the present proposal is not viable. He said of them: “This must surely be petty politics at its worst.”
Those disparaged in this way by Councillor Fairweather include Independent Councillor Bob Spink, whose family have been harbour-users for generations. Councillor Spink’s detailed criticism of the proposals was outlined in our April 22 issue.
Councillor Morrison told us: “It is encouraging that Councillor Fairweather finally recognises the advantages for Arbroath to have a slipway for leisure boat users, but it is surprising that the man who promised “consultation, consultation, consultation” on public issues has failed to consult with harbour users, which includes fishermen and leisure craft users, to have their views heard first.
“As a member of the Harbour Committee, I was not aware if the plans for the proposed slipway had been raised at the last meeting in November as I remember the item for a proposed barrier preventing public vehicular access to the outer harbour in stormy weather was debated at length and formed the second part of the infrastructure services committee report last week.
“Having double checked with the council it is disappointing the proposals for the slipway will only be brought to the Harbour Board’s meeting after the decision has been taken at full council on May 12. Rather than the all too familiar ‘take it or lose it’ threat from Councillor Fairweather, in order to allow me to make a measured decision as to whether the proposed slipway site is suitable or best value, it is vital local councillors, including Councillor Fairweather, are given the opportunity to gauge the experienced views of those who actually use the Harbour, day-in-day-out.
“This is why I have requested an emergency meeting of the Harbour Joint Consultative Committee to hear these views directly and take on board those comments ahead of full council and hope my request will be granted.”
Councillor Morrison told us afterwards: “Apart from Councillor Spink I doubt if many elected members have the experience of using a slip and a boat.”
He said this was a significant factor in his decision to ask for the emergency meeting of the Harbour Committee. The request was made a week past Wednesday, but at time of writing no response had been received.