At the tail end of 2018, it was announced that the Isle of Wight Council intended to sell off the harbour situated on the northern coast of the Island. This sparked concern amongst the local community with fears of potential overdevelopment of the area.
Ryde Town Council confirmed back in January that it would investigate the option of purchasing the harbour in the interests of Ryde’s townspeople. This prompted the pause button to be hit on putting Ryde Harbour on the open market.
Now, a professional maritime business from Kent has revealed a solid intention to secure the future of Ryde Harbour by undertaking desperately required dredging works and addressing a number of public health and safety risks. In addition, Riley Marine would look to improve berth holders’ security, introduce new utilities and services and introduce a rigorous in-house maintenance program without the need to outsource work.
Riley Marine was established 30 years ago on the Norfolk Broads by Stephen Higgins, a descendant of the great British car company Riley. The marine company started off by providing maintenance and repair services to the leisure and holiday boating community but quickly moved into the commercial marine industry providing specialist safety boats, workboats and barges, whilst retaining leisure community ties.
The company relocated to the Port of Dover on contract to Amec Marine for the building of cruise terminal 2 just over 20 years ago. The major contract lasted for 2 years but the company has remained in Dover ever since.
Stephen Higgins has told Island Echo:
“We have gained experience and have a proven history providing commercial safety boats, workboats and barges. We can undertake, as a main contractor, port and harbour piling, dredging, construction, marina pontoon repairs and replacements, utilities etc..
“It is our opinion that Ryde Harbour should remain a harbour that benefits the local community and the Isle of Wight as a whole, for both residents and visiting craft, but it requires immediate attention and investment.
“Even though Ryde Town Council has shown an expression of interest we believe that they do not have the in-house resources – nor the finance to outsource – to address the necessary dredging and health and safety issues as this would require finances of between £130,000 and £200,000 from day one.
“It would be our aim to keep Ryde Harbour as a harbour, using our in-house capability to improve and modernise the harbour. This would make the destination more attractive to visiting craft, which in turn will benefit the local economy and community of Ryde. Furthermore, the modernisation will offer opportunities for the next generation of sailors to safely enjoy everything about boating”.
Addressing previous concerns of overdevelopment, Mr Higgings added:
“We believe Ryde Harbour should stay as Ryde Harbour and not fall into a developer’s hands so we would look to add a clause in our bid that gives the Isle of Wight Council a buyback option. We want to listen to the berth holders and residents of Ryde”.
Riley Marine are now publicly asking the Isle of Wight Council for the opportunity to present their expression of interest. The final transfer of Ryde Harbour or outsourcing of work to a third party will require the agreement of the Isle of Wight Council’s Cabinet.
Readers are asked not to contact Riley Marine directly as many details at this point cannot and will not be released.