Town Pier and Pontoon Part A Report
The Cabinet’s authorisation was sought to agree to the sale of the Town Pier and Pontoon, West Street, Gravesend in order to facilitate rapid river transport solutions for the Town.
The Chair praised the comprehensive report and clear recommendations laid out in the report; the Chair noted that the conditions in the agreement would preserve some of the rights to buy back the town pier and pontoon should something go wrong with the new operators.
In response to Members questions, the Service Manager (Property & Regulatory Services) explained that:
· The public would still be able to access the pier; Legal has been instructed to include public access rights in the documentation and Thames Clippers were aware of the public access rights as well
· Thames Clippers was not owned by Uber; the companies name was Collins River Enterprises Ltd but their trading name was Thames Clippers
The Cabinet Members praised the report and outlined key benefits of the sale:
· Safeguards were being sought so that public access to the end of the Pier would be allowed to continue
· GBC had included safeguards within the transfer to allow the Gravesend / Tilbury Ferry Service to continue on a sustainable footing. KCC had been made aware of the safeguards being included in respect of the Gravesend / Tilbury Ferry Service and have raised no concerns to date.
· The sale of the pier and Pontoon would allow for Thames Clippers to operate a functional alternative mode of transport to London and enhance the offers for visitors to the Town
· Improved connectivity with Gravesham to the river and surrounding areas
· The sale should increase commercial use of the pier and increase footfall to the Town Centre
· Retention of the pontoon would require a significant financial outlay over its lifespan in addition to the cost of maintaining the Town Pier. Instead, the Council were receiving good value for money from the sale which would be redistributed to improve services in other areas all to the benefit of residents in the Borough
· The sale meant that the historic asset and its heritage would be preserved in the Town. Thames Clippers would be responsible for maintaining the asset with the Council having an option to buy back the pier and pontoon if something went wrong
· The sale made better use of the river to residents than previously and went towards achieving one of the recommendations made by the Maritime Scrutiny Review Sub Group
Resolved that Cabinet:
· Agreed that the Town Pier and Pontoon were declared surplus to requirements and approved their sale for the reasons set out in the report, noting the specific requirements outlined within the Heads of Terms for any sale to protect public access rights and secure long term management of the Town Pier / Pontoon
· Delegated authority to the Director (Communities), in consultation with the Leader of the Executive, Director (Corporate Services as s151 Officer) and Monitoring Officer to negotiate the final terms of the sale and enter into the necessary associated legal agreements on behalf of the Council