The offer of free moorings to visiting Guernsey yachtsmen was never officially sanctioned by the States finance committees, it has emerged.
A free moorings and water taxi deal was launched by the States on 19th June and it was strongly promoted by Visit Alderney as part of the Bailiwick-wide Staycation campaign. Visit Guernsey is currently advertising that free moorings in Alderney run until 1st September.
Alderney’s 70 visitor moorings in Braye Bay usually cost £20 per night with revenues going to the Harbour Office.
This week the States of Alderney issued a press release stating that the offer would end on 10th August. The accompanying free water taxi offer was removed on 3rd August.
The abrupt termination has attracted criticism from the Island’s boating community.
In response, James Dent, chairman of Policy and Finance, and David Earl, chairman of the Finance Committee, said their committees never in fact intended or agreed to grant any mooring concessions to owners of pleasure craft.
Mr Dent and Mr Earl issued the following statement:
‘The Finance Committee on 27th April – “agreed to provide a concession for 2020 for mooring fees for commercial fishermen” – there was no reference to pleasure craft – the intention was that any concession would simply mirror concessions being offered in Guernsey
‘The Policy and Finance confirmed the Finance Committee decision on 30th April.
‘The application of any concessions thereafter to pleasure craft, and the form the concession took, as was the waving of charges on the water taxi, was not a P&F decision. These concessions emanated thereafter from GSC.
‘The Finance Committee at their meeting on 20th July asked that the concessions that had not been authorised by the Finance Committee cease on 1st August. The Finance Committee was concerned about the large deficit that was accumulating at the harbour (circa £180,000) and saw no reason for this deficit to be accounted for via additional tax burdens on islanders.
‘The Policy and Finance Committee confirmed the Finance Committee decision on Thursday 30th July, but with the proviso that the mooring fees should be reinstated on 10th August, after Alderney Week.’
Graham McKinley, chairman of the GSC, confirmed that his committee had made the decision to offer free moorings.
He said the free water taxi offer had not been authorised by the GSC and was probably a decision made by the Harbourmaster.
Steve Roberts, who sits on P&F and GSC, suggested that the cost of free moorings and water taxi come from the Economic Development Fund instead of the Harbour Office purse.
‘We need to do everything we can to encourage tourists to come up here but we also need to think about where the money comes from. Perhaps it could come out of the Economic Development Fund instead of from the Harbour Office.
‘But maybe we need to look at why the Harbour Office is losing so much money. Have they overspent in the last year? This needs to be looked at.’