GMB Congress Call on Secretary of State for Transport to Use Powers to Investigate Finances of Bembridge Harbour Company in Isle of Wight
Since this particular piece of privatisation occurred, controversy and financial scandals has blighted the Harbour’s development and undermined public confidence in the running of the Harbour, says motion to GMB Congress
GMB Congress is calling on the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to use his powers to investigate the finances of the private company that runs Bembridge Harbour in the Isle of Wight. [See notes to editors for text of GMB Congress motion]
The ownership of the Harbour, which was once community owned, has caused great political scandal in the area, with the local MP losing a 17,000 majority in a previous election, after attempting to make personal gain from the sale of Harbour assets.
Another scandal involved current owners, the Harbour Company, which is owned 100% by one family, who sold a houseboat plot on the Harbour for £1 to one of its own companies. Later that day that same houseboat plot was resold for £87,500.
GMB Congress is calling to enact the Bembridge Harbour Act 1963 which allows for the Secretary of State to call in the books of the Harbour Company and conduct and audit.
The 101st GMB Congress, comprises of 500 elected lay members and 300 visitors and guests. GMB Congress delegates were elected from the GMB membership to represent over 640,000 members from every part of the UK and Ireland and every sector of the economy. Congress is the supreme policy making body in GMB.
Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said:
"It is clear that considerable questions surround the management and sustainability of Bembridge Harbour.
"Despite community attempts to bring a greater degree of public transparency to the financial management of the Harbour, the time has come for the Secretary of State to get a grip and use his departments powers to audit the Harbour books.
"Finally, the impact on direct employment and the maintenance and growth of leisure activities mean urgent public scrutiny of the Harbour’s long term viability is vital which is why we are seeking from the Secretary of State, the use of his delegated powers to show the books to the Bembridge community."
Contact: Michelle Gordon 07866 369 259 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 762
Notes to Editors
GMB Congress Motion
226. BEMBRIDGE HARBOUR ISLE OF WIGHT
Congress notes that the control of BEMBRIDGE Harbour on the Isle of Wight was transferred from public to private sector hands by way of The BEMBRIDGE Harbour (1963) Act.
Congress further notes that since this particular piece of privatisation occurred controversy and Financial scandals has blighted the Harbours development and undermined public confidence in the running of the Harbour for the best interests of users and residents. Such Scandals have ranged from the Local Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Council being forced from office over their attempts to make personal gain from the sale of Harbour assets to its last owner bringing the Harbour to the brink of Bankruptcy and spending time in Jail for his actions.
The Harbour is vital to the economic life of the area as well as being a wonderful environment for residents and visitors alike. Congress further notes that public confidence after such mismanagement and corruption surrounding previous owners is understandably low.
The current Owners have been asked to be Transparent in their running of the Harbour and the use and disposal of its assets particularly as the Harbour Company which is owned 100% by one family has had built around it a number of other companies with which it trades also 100% owned by the same family.
Congress further notes that amongst a number of recent concerns raised by local people has been the Disposal of a Harbour asset to one of the families other Companies for £1 which later the same day was sold to an outside buyer for £87,000. The owners has refused to explain why Harbour assets were disposed of in this way
Congress calls on the Secretary of State for Transport to conduct an audit of the Harbour Company and the subsidiary companies built around it as allowed for by the original BEMBRIDGE Harbour Act of 1963.
Congress agrees to campaign for such action from the Secretary of State in order to regain the confidence and support of the community and ensure transparency in the handling of Privatised assets such as BEMBRIDGE Harbour.
Congress agrees that a public asset passed to private hands must be run with the full and Transparent disclosure of all Financial activities and have accountability to consumers and taxpayers or be returned to public or local community trust control.
Congress further notes that is unfortunate that the accountant being used by the Harbour Company and its surrounding group of Companies is called Mr Crook.
And Congress regrets that Mr Crook was expelled from the Accounting Institute for failing to supply information on numerous occasions.