Harbour residents were out in full force at a council meeting this week to seek support from the authority after a 25 per cent hike in bills for maintenance to sea defences.
More than 3,000 properties in the harbour pay an annual fee of £200 through Premier Marinas to Sovereign Harbour Trust for maintenance to the harbour, bridges, locks, cleaning the water ways and dredging the channel so boats can get in and out of the harbour. But last month residents opened their bills to find the charge had risen to £250 per household.
Residents have said the charge is unfair and turned out to hear the council discuss a motion on Wednesday night regarding the controversial issue.
Ian Weeks, of Sovereign Harbour Residents’ Association, was one of the speakers at the council meeting, who said, “We are harbour residents but principally residents of Eastbourne.
“We’re not asking for special treatment, just a level playing field.”
The debate was opened by Councillor Patrick Warner, who lives in the harbour, who said there was a great deal of frustration among residents on many issues, including that they pay among the highest levels of council tax in the town, adding, “Yet in so many areas of the harbour, residents have to pay separate estate management companies to maintain the communal areas whilst almost every other area of Eastbourne this is funded from council tax.”
Councillor Philip Ede added, “The way in which this council can help is getting the key stakeholders around the table and start talking.”
Members of the council unanimously agreed a motion which recognised the strong feelings from residents over the charges and agreed they would help by providing residents with legal advice. The charges go back to the 1980s when residents could not purchase a property in the harbour without first signing a maintenance agreement. Maintenance fees have since been rising above inflation and residents are now questioning the terms of the agreement.