What is Queenborough Harbour Trust?
Queenborough Harbour Trust is a properly constituted non-profit making company with CIC (Community Interest Company) status. It is charged with running the mooring services at Queenborough.
Why did the Harbour Trust take over the moorings from the Council?
When Swale Borough Council (SBC) announced in 2012 that they intended to stop running the loss making moorings operation, a group drawn from the local community committed to maintaining maritime services in Queenborough formed themselves into the Queenborough Harbour Trust and successfully bid to take over the running of the historic harbour.
How long will the Trust manage the Harbour?
Originally Swale Borough Council had intended that the Trust would be granted a lease of 25 years to operate and manage the Harbour, however in line with other recent asset transfers they have agreed to a 125 year lease. Queenborough Harbour Trust are in negotiation with Swale Borough Council to complete the lease arrangements on this basis.
Who owns Queenborough Harbour?
Not as easy to answer as you might think. Queenborough Harbour Trust leases the Harbour Office in South Street and the quay, including the painting and the scrubbing berth up to the start of the fishermen’s’ quay, as well as the dinghy park and the concrete barge from Swale Borough Council. The bed on which the majority of the moorings in the Swale rests is rented from Queenborough Fishery Trust who have established Queenborough Harbour Trust as their agents for the moorings that run from the northerly entrance of the Swale to Swale Bridge. Queenborough Harbour Trust now owns outright the All Tide Landing and the attached pontoon.
What is the purpose of the Trust and what are its business goals?
The purpose of the Trust is to continue developing the Queenborough Harbour maritime services to the benefit of the local and maritime community. The primary business goal is to develop the harbour moorings and services as an attractive location for mooring holders and visitors. This will help to ensure its long term viability and support the local business community.
How much profit does the Harbour Trust make?
Queenborough Harbour Trust does not make any profit. Any surplus generated is invested back into the development of the harbour.
What has the Trust achieved since it took over?
For many years Swale Borough Council operated the Harbour at a substantial loss. Since taking over the mooring services, Queenborough Harbour Trust has operated at a (small) surplus which has been ploughed back in to the Harbour’s operations.
- The Trust has invested in improving the maintenance of the moorings. Previously they were only inspected at three year intervals, but now the moorings are maintained annually in line with best practice.
- We have implemented a free trot boat service for the benefit of mooring holders and visitors.
- Since the Trust took over the operation of the Harbour, visitor numbers have nearly doubled in less than 3 years. We now have more than 1600 visitor nights every year.
- Queenborough Harbour Trust has taken over the ownership of the All Tide landing and taken out a low interest loan in order to commission a full renovation.
- Queenborough Harbour Trust applied for and were successful in being awarded a substantial Government grant to install a sixty metre walk-ashore mooring pontoon.
- We now have two specially fitted out trot boats in service – Sheppey I and Sheppey III.
- A free Wi-Fi service is available to mooring holders and visitors.
What are the future plans for the Harbour?
Now that the basic infrastructure has been improved we are seeking to develop the services that the boating community expects but which are lacking in Queenborough. The development of easy access to power, water and fuel are vital, as is enhanced security facilities. With the increase in mooring holder and visitor numbers we want the Harbour to be seen as a ‘destination’ not just a stopping off point. To this end we will be working with the Town Council and Sheppey for there to be encouragement for visitors to enjoy the many local attractions. In the summer the Harbour is currently attracting over 5,000 visitors who come by boat – this will increase.
Who will benefit from investment in the Harbour?
Users of the harbour benefit from the improved services on offer and as visitor numbers increase so the local community will benefit from their spending power.
How does the Trust decide what projects to work on first?
On taking over the Harbour our first priority was to update safety equipment and the general governance of all operations. This resulted in new safety equipment for operators and employing operational personnel that are suitably qualified. It also meant that we needed to sell one of the harbour boats that had high operating costs and refit the other one to make it more suitable as a trot and general support boat.
For the harbour to be viable in the long term it needs to offer over twice as many moorings as it had been left in service by Swale Borough Council. A programme is in place to develop the moorings and has started with new shoal and the pontoon walk-ashore moorings. The plan is to consolidate and develop more pontoon moorings.
A great asset that Queenborough has is the All Tide Landing (ATL). This has passed its original design life and has suffered from sporadic maintenance which was carried out by members of Queenborough Yacht Club, in the absence of a fully effective body to look after the ATL. Now that the Trust owns the ATL it has managed to raise loans specifically to carry out a refurbishment of the ATL walkway – this is a significant financial commitment that the Trust has taken on. This refurbishment work will be completed for the 2015 season.
The Trust’s next projects are ones that will provide new and improved facilities for Harbour users, including toilet and shower facilities on the new pontoon, basic victualing and engine fuel. We are investigating how best these may be provided.
Why is the Trust looking for funding?
Queenborough Harbour has suffered from chronic underinvestment for a number of years. The Trust continually seeks to access the funds which will enable it to supply the amenities and services which other areas, not having been starved of investment can take for granted.
How many staff does the Trust employ?
Any organisation’s greatest asset is its staff. Queenborough is extremely fortunate to benefit from exceptional courteous and knowledgeable full-time harbour operators, an excellent part-time book-keeper, well led by a part-time Harbour Manager. This team is supported by the team of Directors/Trustees and Friends of Queenborough Harbour who volunteer their time and expertise.
I have some good ideas or perhaps some concerns: who should I speak to?
The Trust welcomes suggestions on how to improve the harbour services. Please talk to our harbour staff, ring 01795 662 051, write to Harbour Masters, South Street, Queenborough, Kent ME11 5AF or email email@example.com. Even better, join our Friends of Queenborough Harbour Trust. By joining the Friends you will receive a regular newsletter of Harbour events and developments and your views will be actively sought.
I would like to help the Trust, what can I do to help?
We really welcome all those who wish to see the further development of Queenborough Harbour. As our facilities grow and improve, so does the level of maintenance required to keep everything safe and in good working order. Volunteers have helped to lay a water pipe along the pontoon, assisted in pressure washing, installed CCTV, set-up Wi-Fi, set up a Harbour Library and provided free loan of a boat trailer. If you wish to become actively involved by volunteering your time and expertise, either on the water or ashore, you can do so by joining Queenborough Harbour Volunteers. Please talk to our harbour staff, ring 01795 662 051, write to Harbour Masters, South Street, Queenborough, Kent ME11 5AF or email firstname.lastname@example.org.