Jetskiers who break speed limits or drive dangerously around Brightlingsea harbour could face on-the-spot fines of up to £1,000 if new powers are granted to police.
Following increased complaints about jetskiers this summer, Essex police and Brightlingsea Harbour Commissioners are working to try and get a Public Spaces Protection Order brought in to cover the harbour area.
At the annual meeting of the harbour's leisure users last night (14 October), PC Daren Chambers of Essex Police Marine Unit said that a quicker way of fining errant users – who speed, 'showboat' or endanger swimmers – was needed and that work was ongoing to bring in the necessary legislation.
PC Chambers, who has responsibility for the Colne and Blackwater, said that the aim was to educate users first, with fines as a last resort. Prosecutions were ongoing following incidents this year, but he said that the court process was slow at the moment because of Covid-19. In one case, he said, a jetski user who threatened harbour staff was tracked down at his home address after his car's number plate was noted by a member of the public. He urged other users to send photographs and videos of dangerous behaviour, but not to place themselves at risk when doing so.
"There is work to do on these issues," Brightlingsea harbourmaster James Thomas told the virtual meeting. "Tendring District Council has vowed to work with the harbour to bring more resources to deal with it."
The meeting was also told that:
- Work to build up salt marsh around the creek through the USAR project has been very successful, with rapid colonisation by plants such as samphire and sea aster. Overall levels of silt in the creek were said to be little changed;
- Ferry takings were down as the season only began in July, but September proved particularly busy with historical harbour tours up 100% on 2019. A new online booking system with an app is being developed and a permanent landing stage at Point Clear has been approved but requires finance ;
- Shipping number were down this year– 15 from March against 28 in 2019 – partly due to Covid-19;
- Oliver's Wharf is to change its name to the Port of Brightlingsea and concentrate on cargoes such as cement;
- A CCTV upgrade around the harbour had helped with a number of police investigations. Harbour users can contact the harbour office to view video if required;
- The boatpark next to the Colne Yacht Club will be upgraded after the Harbour takes it over from Brightlingsea Town Council. A consultation of users is planned;
- Superfast wi-fi is now available to harbour users. Better access to power and water for some parts of the harbour is being looked at;
- Analysis of boat scrubbing is to take place to determine any environmental issues.