Sir Robin Knox-Johnston visits Queenborough Harbour
Sir Robin visited Queenborough Harbour 9th June on the way back from the Royal River Pageant with Suhaili to his home port of Gosport. He had extensively refurbished this original wooden craft in which he won the Sunday Times Round the World Single handed yacht race back in 1965.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnson and David Holden on Suhaili being welcomed on his arrival from London in Queenborough. Sir Robin is a Patron of Queenborough Harbour Trust, past President of the Cruising Association and is currently its Patron also.
Sir Robin, his crew and his brother visited the Queenborough Yacht Club for dinner that evening where he was made very welcome
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, round the world yachtsman agrees to be our patron
After studying our business plan and ambitions for Queenborough Harbour Sir Robin has agreed to be our Patron.
He believes that the River Thames and Medway have had little or no investment from the authorities for leisure sailors and that improvements to harbours and berthing arrangements must be encouraged.
He used to sail "Suhaili," the yacht he first circumnavigated the world non-stop, from St Katherine's in the 80s to spend the odd night at Queenborough. He has fond memories of such visits.
A pdf file of this document can be downloaded here.
Queenborough Harbour - A wider community's unique amenity and historic and financial asset
Why is it so important?
Swale Borough Council's decision to offer the management of Queenborough Harbour, in perpetuity, to a third party is a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for a 'not for profit' organisation to develop this valuable local asset into a viable enterprise that benefits the local and Swale communities. There are successful 'not for profit' organisations developing local assets for the benefit of their communities and contributing to their local economies. Brightlingsea Harbour is such an example - it is a not for profit organisation that makes a profit and reinvests every penny into its harbour that in turn supports the local economy. Queenborough Harbour should be managed by an organisation that is dedicated to the success of the Harbour as a valuable asset, which is a viable, profitable local amenity serving its marine, recreational, educational, disadvantaged and business communities.
Swale Borough Council's Intent
Maidstone Borough Council is running a restricted tender, on behalf of Swale Borough Council to award a contract for managing the Queenborough Harbour Mooring Service on the Isle of Sheppey in Swale.
The Council acknowledges that Queenborough Harbour is the primary boating refuge on the Swale, which is a narrow channel of tidal water separating the Isle of Sheppey from the mainland. It is a place of natural beauty, diverse business, communities and environments covering 364 square kilometres and a population of 125,000 people. The Swale Borough is in a strategic location being part of the Thames Gateway and close to mainland Europe.
The harbour at Queenborough has strong historical links with the Continent, especially Holland and is strategically placed at the entrance to the River Medway and for people travelling along the coast. The harbour has a long history of being an important facility for the Royal Navy and was one of their key minesweeper bases during WW2.
The Swale Borough's maritime influence is a product of its 111km long coastline - the longest of any district in Kent. It includes the soft clay cliffs of Sheppey, its coastal marshes and mud, its inlets and creeks; the latter providing the basis for industries such as fishing, barge building and in modern times, tourism and leisure.
Swale Borough Council recognises that the Queenborough Harbour service provides valuable mooring facilities for local yachtsmen, fishermen and visitors alike. This in turn provides a valuable service for the local economy by supporting tourism and local maritime industries.
In addition, the South East England Development Agency has developed a master plan for land immediately adjacent to Queenborough Harbour, for mixed business and residential development. Included within the development are plans for a new marina complex over the medium term.
Swale Borough Council states that the Harbour Service is therefore an important asset for the local community and the Borough generally.
The Council says it is seeking an operator with an interest in operating and developing the harbour service. Having identified the importance of the service to the local community and economy, The Council believes that the continued operation of the service is best placed with an organisation with the experience and resources to take forward the development of the services already provided.
The Council's stated Vision is to transform the Borough's economic, social and environmental prospects so that it is one of the best places in Britain in which to live, work, learn and invest. This is supported by a determination to deliver, directly and in partnership with others, a variety of services to meet and champion the needs of the local community.
Swale community's response
For some years, the local community has been disappointed with Swale Borough Council's slow rundown of Queenborough Harbour services to the point that the local community has apologised to the visitors for its poor services. The local community therefore have welcomed the Council's move to divest themselves of the harbour operations and transfer the management to an organisation that will serve the community by developing the harbour services. In response to this, the local community has set up the Queenborough Harbour Trust to manage Queenborough Harbour.
Queenborough Harbour Trust, a not for profit organisation, has submitted an offer to the Council that meets all their stated objectives. The Trust has shown that their offer provides a viable operation for the harbour, that it is profitable and that these profits are reinvested in the harbour. By reinvesting and developing the Harbour's services, the Harbour will attract more visitors to the area and the Harbour in particular. The details of the offer to the Council shows that with the harbour managed by the Queenborough Harbour Trust it will benefit the local community by an additional £150,000 year on year.
The Queenborough Harbour Trust is made up of representatives, the Trustees, from Queenborough Society, Queenborough Yacht Club, Queenborough Rowing Club, the All Tide Landing Board, Sheppey Rugby Club and Castle Connections. The Trustees and members supporting the Trust come from the local, Sheppey and Swale communities; they are residents of Queenborough and towns on the Isle of Sheppey and Swale. Queenborough Harbour Trust therefore truly represents the interests of Swale Borough.
Queenborough Harbour Trust's response
Queenborough Harbour Trust has provided Swale Borough Council with the solution to managing a harbour with a 'fit for purpose' strategy of low overheads, customer (user focused) staff and investment drive that will increase its capacity to moor larger vessels and more vessels. The Harbour will be more effectively manned and have improved security.
What makes Queenborough Harbour Trust's offer to the Council unique is the All Tide Landing, which is owned by the Queenborough Yacht Club. Including the use and operation of the All Tide Landing enables, for the first time, the Harbour to be operated as an integrated facility of the Creek, Swale moorings and the All Tide Landing. The revenue this integrated operation generates from the boating communities is key to the overall viability of the Harbour.
With the development of the Harbour the opportunity to work more effectively with local schools and those who are disadvantaged becomes a reality - reinvestment enables improved facilities. Queenborough Harbour Trust's business model is based on a worse case with no grants and loans - it shows that the Harbour will be a viable and increasingly profitable operation. However, since Queenborough Harbour Trust will be eligible for grants and loans the harbour development can occur more rapidly with a corresponding rapid contribution to the local economy.
The following 'check list' highlights Queenborough Harbour Trust's contribution to Queenborough Harbour's communities. Also attached is a consolidated narrative of responses to the questions raised by Swale Borough Council's tender prequalification and tender process.
- 1 Health and Safety - comply with all relevant legislation and provide clear guidelines to staff and users of the Harbour
- 2 All operations will be developed to comply with ISO 9001 Quality Management and ISO 14000 Environmental Management
- Currently the Council's harbour operations are not set up to be compliant.
- 3 Certificates and licences - ensure all appropriate certificates, licences and consents are obtained
- 4 Operate and manage the overnight moorings
- 5 Operate and manage the annual/summer/winter moorings
- 6 The set fees for the mooring service and manage the booking of moorings
- 7 Take cash for overnight moorings from moored vessels and bank all monies taken
- Currently this excludes the use of the All Tide Landing. Integrating the operation of the All Tide Landing in the Harbour's operations provides increased revenue to reinvest into the Harbour's services.
- 8 Undertake and oversee the planned maintenance of all moorings in conjunction with Medway Port Authority.
- 9 Ensure all the Harbour's vessels comply with appropriate legislation/codes of practice.
- Currently there are two vessels and we have offered to take these over from the Council.
- 10 Undertake and oversee the planned maintenance of all moorings in conjunction with Medway Port Authority.
- 11 Undertake towing duties of vessels as and when required.
- 12 Carry out regular safety inspections/preventative actions in relation to moored vessels.
- 13 Provide information to Medway Port Authority in relation to maritime bye-laws.
- 14 Maintain the quayside/minor repairs/cleansing etc.
- 15 Maintain the "Hard"/minor repairs/cleansing as required.
- 16 Act as a focal point for requests for information from visitors and advice in relation to the harbour.
- Currently it is the Harbour Office is not located close to the moorings and is not able to be a welcoming point for visitors and Harbour users.
- 17 Respond to out of hours emergency calls relating to vessels in distress or similar emergencies.
- This out of the current scope of operations due to the Councils limited manning for the Harbour.
- 18 Provide an oil recycling point for harbour vessels.
- 19 Operate the dinghy park.
- The dinghy park will be developed to increase its capacity and improve security.
- 20 Liaise with the fishermen for the operation of the fisherman's quay.
- The Council have established a separate agreement with Queenborough's fishermen for the operation and maintenance of the fishermen's quay.
- 21 Liaise with local partners and agencies such as Medway Ports, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Port of London, All Tide Landing Board.
- Queenborough Harbour Trust is unique in being able to provide an integrated Harbour facility as the All Tide Landing Board is a Trustee.
- 22 Administer bookings and reconcile payments.
- 23 Arrange collections of waste.
- 24 Issuing licenses for pleasure boats.
- Swale Borough Council wishes to retain this function.
- 25 Administer and monitor the booking of the concrete lighter.
- 26 Water taxi service. A water taxi service will be provided to suite the Harbour seasons
- Due to the Council's restricted manning levels there is no Trot Boat or water taxi service is currently provided for the Harbour.
- 27 Protection for the wildlife and its habitats in the Harbour.
- This is currently not a function of the Council's harbour operations
- 28 Improved supervision and CCTV covering the moorings, All Tide Landing and Creek.
- Currently the location of the Council's staff makes it difficult for them to adequately supervise the Harbour's facilities.
- 29 Operate and maintain toilet and shower facilities for Harbour users.
- The current facilities have not been maintained in a 'fit for use state' and therefore not been available for visitors to the harbour. Queenborough Harbour Trust have offered to operate and maintain the toilet and shower facilities. (The facilities can be extended to include clothes washing and drying for visiting boat crews).
- 30 Manage the cleaning and scrubbing berth.
- 31 Community enterprises.
- Breaking new ground for the Harbour working with the community to develop programmes for water craft, natural history and social history interests.
- 32 Education enterprises.
- For the first time the Harbour working with local schools for the harbour operations to be used as a training workshop for students.
- 33 Additional moorings.
- Develop the Harbour's Swale mooring asset by including new half and three-quarter tide moorings and develop the existing swinging moorings to experimental 'T' berths. Ultimately, extend the All Tide Landing to include pontoon moorings.
- 34 New Harbour Office.
- The existing harbour office is located behind a fence on the end of the quay in the Creek. This is the furthest is it can be positioned from the main revenue earning Swale moorings. A new fit for purpose Harbour Office will be located adjacent to the All Tide Landing with views of the Swale and all the moorings.
- 35 Burial of ashes at sea.
- 36 Visitor boat victualling.
- The local commerce working with the Harbour to provide a victualling service for visiting boats.
- 37 Marine fuel.
- Install marine fuelling facility at the All Tide Landing.
- 38 Boat yard maintenance.
- Sub let the existing harbour office and yard to a local boat maintenance enterprise (the facility is not required for the Harbour as building and boat maintenance is not a core business for the harbour operator).
- 39 Wi-Fi for harbour users.
- Provide Wi-Fi facility for Harbour users.
- 40 Webcam.
- Provide webcam linked to the Harbour website.
- 41 Website.
- Set up the Queenborough Harbour website.
- 42 Income to the local economy.
- Improving the Harbour's facilites and services will attract more visitors to Queenborough. Just a 20% increase an the number of visitors will introduce some £150,000 into the local economy - year on year.
- 43 Local events.
- Currently the services offered by the Harbour are inadequate to support sizeable local events. With the improved services the Harbour will be able to help promote a Queenborough Regatta that includes the historical, educational and recreational societies and clubs in and around Queenborough.