PLANS to sell off the loss-making Ryde Harbour, which haemorrhages £34,000 a year and needs £1m worth of maintenance and dredging work, have been announced by the Isle of Wight Council.
The authority is set to market the man-made harbour following a private sector approach for the 160-berth facility, with the recommendation it is market tested with a covenant that it remains in use as a harbour or marina.
However, the covenant is not set in stone and would be reviewed by the council in light of any bids it receives. It could be dropped as a condition of sale if a private company submits a development proposal that would otherwise benefit the economy.
A report has warned that if not sold, the harbour could be closed.
There are more than 21,000 marine visitors to the harbour each year, but the shoreside hospitality facilities fall well below the standards recommended by the Royal Yachting Association and are a constant source of complaints from harbour users.
The decision to market the harbour is due to be made under delegated powers.
According to a delegated decision report, published today (Friday), the council has no budgeted funds to cover the annual losses incurred by the harbour. These losses would be avoided if the harbour was taken over by the private sector.
"Given the financial pressures facing the council and the need to prioritise its limited resources towards its statutory obligations, the ability of the council to support the harbour, a discretionary service, in the short to medium term may be limited," it states.
"If the council is not able to agree to consider the sale of Ryde Harbour as a harbour/marina to take advantage of this current opportunity there is a risk that similar opportunities may not present themselves again in the medium term.
"If this were the case the council may face a choice of closing the harbour or investing some of its limited resources in it so it can continue to operate."
It is hoped the sale would help regenerate Ryde seafront, as well as secure the immediate future of the harbour.