Agenda item

Agenda item

Ilfracombe Harbour Consultative Forum

Report by the Harbour Master (attached)


The Board considered a report by the Harbour Master (circulated previously) regarding the Ilfracombe Harbour Consultative Forum.


The Harbour Master advised that the Port Marine Guide to Good Practice 2018 (MCGA), which was the accompanying document to the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) stated in section 3:


“Consultation that “Safety in the port marine environment was not just a matter for the organisation, its Officers, contractors or its authorised pilots. Users were also required to minimise risk to themselves and others, in doing so they must be able to put forward to the organisation their views on the development of appropriate safety policies and procedures. It followed therefore that organisations needed to consult, as appropriate with two main groups, which were marine users, both commercial and leisure, and local interests and communities.”


She advised that the Ilfracombe’s Harbour Consultative Forum (The Forum) was formed in 2017 with its own constitution (appendix A) and up to 2020 it had performed some of the duties required under the code. However, since the advent of COVID 19; to date there had not been another forum meeting. This had left the Harbour Authority without an avenue to comply with section 3 of MCGA.


She drew the Boards attention to the following points within the report:


·         Port marine operations were technical matters, which were well understood by experienced Harbour masters or port marine practitioners, but perhaps much less so by the wider public, including many recreational users.

·         The importance of appropriate involvement of wider interests, which safeguarded the organisations position, whilst being mindful of the overall responsibility for managing safety in a harbour or facility rested with the organisation.

·         That the safety management system was only effective if the organisation responsible took active measures to involve and secure the commitment of those involved. This applied both to the risk assessment, and to the subsequent operation, maintenance and ongoing development of the safety management system.

·         The general aim of consultation on these occasions with users and other interests was to provide an opportunity for contributions to be made both on the identification of risk and its management. Risk management often depended less on formal regulation than on winning the understanding of those whose activities created the risk and securing their agreement to safe behaviour. Organisations were therefore encouraged to advertise that they were undertaking a risk assessment, and to seek ways of securing the widest possible response from those likely to have a meaningful contribution.

·         There was a clear understanding that the Forum had not met the full requirements of section 3 of the MCGA and given that time lapse between the last meeting and now, it would be advantageous to revisit the Forums constitution and re-establish the Forum to enable the better management of the Harbour moving forwards.


Mr Gear added that he was Chair of the Forum in its current format for 10 years. However, attendance at the meetings had a tendency to fluctuate if there were particular issues that were affecting harbour users in their day to day work.  He explained that in his opinion the Forum would work more effectively if every registered boat owner was a member and there would not be so many meetings held unnecessarily.


In response, the Harbour Master advised that there didn’t have to be an update from the Forum to every Harbour Board meeting and that updates could be provided on an annual basis. She added that the Forum meetings could also be held via Microsoft Teams or Zoom to facilitate better attendance levels.





(a)  that Full Council approve the following:


(i)            that the Forum as it stood be dissolved and that a new Forum be constituted that better met the requirements of the Harbour and the Harbour Authorities requirements under section 3 of the MCGA; and


(ii)          that the name of the forum be changed to the “Ilfracombe Harbour Users Group”.


Supporting documents: