Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Moray SNP Councillors have accepted a petition from Moray harbour users opposed to Conservative and Independent councillors’ plans to massively hike harbour charges.

Angry harbour users have handed a petition to the SNP Council Group stating that they do not require more electricity or water points at Hopeman Harbour, one of several harbours, affected by the charging plans.

An increase in the number of electricity and water points was one of the justifications given for the original decision.

The first report on the issue had incorrect and misleading information. SNP Councillors challenged the basis of the decision, given the errors in the original report and, as a result of that challenge, the issue will now be reconsidered at next Tuesday’s meeting of the Council’s  Economic Development & Infrastructure Services Committee.

During the previous debate SNP Councillors proposed an option that provided a discount for over 60 and which kept increases in charges to a much more reasonable level.

Conservative and Independent Administration councillors, including representatives of communities with affected harbours, backed a charges increase that completely removed the over 60s discount and would have seen some harbour users getting an over 100% increase in charges.

Commenting after accepting the petition SNP Opposition Leader Cllr Gary Coull said:

“The SNP proposed a measured and considered charging option that we felt was as fair as possible but also recognising that some increase was required. We were flabbergasted when the Tory and Independent councillors, including John Cowe and Dennis Slater who represent Hopeman Harbour users, decided to go for not just the biggest charging increase option but went even further with a proposal that would see some users getting over 100% increase in their charges.

“Like the harbour users we were disappointed that we lost the vote but with the information in the original report being incorrect there is a further chance to get a fairer outcome. I would urge councillors like Dennis Slater and John Cowe to reconsider their proposals which grossly unfair for harbour users.

“Once again it is another consultation where Tories and Independents are not listening to the responses.”

Buckie SNP Councillors Gordon McDonald and Sonya Warren also represent harbour users affected by the proposals.

Cllr Gordon McDonald said:

“I was just astounded at the proposal from the Council’s Tory and Independent administration councillors. They were way beyond anything I thought they would do. Their plans are totally unfair on harbour users with small boats.

“These are not wealthy owners of large yachts and other vessels but people who have small boats only a few metres long. They are ordinary people who come from coastal communities where going out on a boat is a normal everyday occurrence.

“I will be making the same arguments I made before and I sincerely hope that the Tories and Independents will take note of the angry response from harbour users and vote with us this time.”

Cllr Sonya Warren said:

“Harbour users with small vessels right along the Moray coast are rightly angry and frustrated with Tories, Independent and Labour councillors who have simply not understood the impact of the original charging decision.

“There is now an opportunity for them to reconsider this daft decision and vote for a more balanced approach that does not discriminate heavily against harbour users.

“Harbour users are making it clear in large numbers that they do not want to pay an excessive increase for facilities that they don’t require. They just want a harbour that is maintained as it should be. They are currently paying harbour dues for harbours that are in desperate need of dredging and getting in and out of the harbour is far more important to them than additional unnecessary equipment on the quayside.”