Brightlingsea Town Council says that “no decision has been taken” regarding the future of the dolphins on the Hard – and is now asking residents for their views.
The statement comes after much local controversy about the possible removal of the 80-year-old steel structures – considered by some townsfolk to be part of the town’s maritime history – which were thought to be in the way of a proposed Heritage Quay and jetty development.
The council now says that “the presence of the structures does not in any way interfere” with the plans for the Heritage Quay and intends to consult with the community before “a final and balanced decision will be taken by full council”.
But the same statement also says that the dolphins are “too far gone for economic repair, which is estimated at £50,000” – and a surveyor’s report*, commissioned by the council, says that the “only credible option is complete removal of the dolphins”.
In his report, the surveyor said: “The corrosion of the steel members above the high tide line is such that the rust and hardwood rubbing timbers are holding the dolphins together.” He adds: “The deterioration of the structures is so widespread that repair is unlikely to be feasible.”
The report was commissioned on March 29, 10 days after John Carr, the councillor leading the quay project, told a full town council meeting that the dolphins needed to be removed. Subsequently he reported that local engineers were unable to restore the dolphins, but might be able to build replicas.
Responding to a survey on Brightlingsea Info last week, 149 people - 78% – said the dolphins are part of the town’s heritage and should be restored. 17 people thought they should be removed and 13 were in favour of placing a replica on land. The remainder thought they should be left to rust away or didn’t care.
*The surveyor’s report on the dolphins can be seen on the town council’s website here. Comments can be made to the town clerk via email to: [email protected], or by letter to the Town Clerk, The Parish Hall, Victoria Place, Brightlingsea CO7 0BP.
Jetty build to go ahead
The town council has also said that it is “pressing ahead” with the Heritage Quay project, the first stage of which will see a £100,000 floating jetty built close to the Colne Yacht Club’s existing jetty.
The council says the jetty will be funded by a £75,000 grant from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund with the remaining £25,000 coming out of £54,000 compensation paid to the council by the Land Registry following wrongful advice given in 2005.
The location of the new jetty on Brightlingsea Hard
A council press release issued this week confirmed that the floating jetty - which it calls a pier – will initially only be available for use by commercial fishing vessels, partly because of Covid restrictions. It states: “…as soon as risk levels allow the pier will be open to the public and other craft can tie up to it subject to permission from the Harbour Office. It is difficult to put a fixed date on these developments but the aspiration is to facilitate public use as soon as practicable.”
Piling work for the jetty began in March, but slowed when it was discovered that the old concrete grid under its planned location was much thicker than expected. By the time work stopped at the end of the month – in order to protect breeding birds- only two piles had been installed. As a temporary solution, the council now plans to anchor the jetty – scheduled for installation in June and July – with railway carriage wheels until drilling and piling can recommence in November.
However, Cllr Carr has confirmed to Brightlingsea Info that the £100,000 price tag does “not include any additional works that we will need to undertake in the winter”, but said he hopes equipment being used for other projects around the harbour can be utilised to keep costs down.
The council also confirmed that no funding has been secured to build the Heritage Quay and no design has been finalised, saying that once the jetty is built “the steering committee will then press on with the design of the multi-purpose quay and start the process of seeking funding for this community project.”
Concept drawings showed the quay as a decked area in front of the Colne Yacht Club for public use with a jetty large enough for Thames barges to tie up to – but the jetty that’s under construction will only be strong enough for much smaller vessels.