Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) was very pleased to have the opportunity of taking Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely on a tour of the harbour on 11th April to view the strategic harbour and current development sites on the River Medina. Bob Seely was joined afloat by CHC Chairman David Riley and Cowes Harbour Master Capt. Stuart McIntosh.
The trip included visits to the three interlinked marine employment sites currently in various stages of development along the Medina Estuary; Venture Quays on the East Cowes waterfront, Kingston Marine Park at Whippingham, and Medina Yard in Cowes.
The tour provided an opportunity for Peter Morton (Morty), CEO at Wight Shipyard, to show MP Bob Seely their shipbuilding facility at Venture Quays and their current build of Red Funnel’s Red Jet 7. Bob Seely confirmed his support for Wight Shipyard and stated that he was aware of the imminent risk to Wight Shipyard’s future on the Island. There is potential for the loss of over 150 skilled jobs if a solution is not urgently found to provide a secure facility on the Island to enable the company to continue to trade and grow their aluminium shipbuilding and repair business.
The MP Bob Seely thanked CHC for showing him around the harbour, and said: “It’s absolutely vital that we protect shipbuilding on the Island. There are some big question marks over the viability of some of these developments. If they are not going to go ahead, I am concerned that they are getting planning permission. I will be discussing the importance of jobs and shipbuilding with council officers and councillors. I want to make sure that we are supporting the right projects.”
CHC’s fact-finding harbour tour for MP Bob Seely came after a meeting at Whitehall last autumn. Following the harbour tour, CHC attended a meeting in Newport with the Isle of Wight Council Leader, Deputy Leader, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Business Development, and Wight Shipyard CEO Peter Morton.
Capt. Stuart McIntosh said: “CHC’s priority is to ensure both interim and long-term solutions are found to maintain ship building and marine services capability within the Medina Valley.
“Our position is based on CHC strategic policy to promote and deliver sustainable harbour development policies to safeguard existing and support new business services, investment and employment.
“Marine employment is central to the economy of Cowes and the wider Island, and it is vital that the retention of adequate waterfront employment sites is prioritised in order for our marine industries to reach their potential. As a result, CHC is continuing to work very hard with all parties concerned to assist in finding a solution for the Island’s marine industry.”