Here’s a report on the This is Kent website, from the Whitstable Times, about the recent rejection of the proposal to re-site The Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum at Whitstable Harbour.
“It’s a no to £300k plan for Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum
“Friday, February 15, 2013 by Liz Crudgington, Whitstable Times
“HARBOUR bosses have snubbed a plan that would have brought a £300,000 investment and a new tourist attraction to the town.
“They were given the go-ahead by council officials and the harbour board and were negotiating a lease for the engine shed site on the south quay.
“But support was abruptly withdrawn in an e-mail sent to the museum’s trust by board chairman Councillor Pat Todd.
“At a harbour board meeting on Friday, former independent member Adam Roake said there had been no explanation. He said:
“They are offering to make a £300,000 capital investment in return for running the engine shed site for a peppercorn rent. Two previous reportssay go ahead with it.
“A decision has been made in private following a report given in private. I think we deserve a public expression of the answer.”
“Board members initially made no comment on his points and went on to discuss a bid for European funding which would pay for professional fees for a separate project to develop the south quay shed, now used for storage. Dawn Hudd, deputy head of culture and enterprise at Canterbury City Council, which owns the harbour, said the grant could make a scheme there viable. The board will find out if they have been successful in April. She said:
“It would pay for professional fees in the design and if that is 50 per cent funded it may tip it over to make it viable.
“It could make the difference between something being a viable scheme or not.
“None of the projects so far have been commercially viable.
“We want to bring forward a viable development proposal for the south quay shed.”
“But Mr Roake said the investment from the museum trust would be more valuable.
“The museum was dedicated to the history of Thames Sailing Barges and featured shipwrights’, blacksmiths’ and riggers’ tools as well as models, plans and photographs. He said:
“This could be a major investment, larger than the Interreg grant, which seems to be the only other investment under consideration.
“Are you really sure you don’t want that investment in the harbour? It is a large investment you are turning down.”
“Council lawyer Janet Taylor said the decision was made in another place, not by the harbour board. But she refused to be drawn any further. Cllr Todd added:
“There are a lot of negotiations that went on with the barge museum that didn’t come to fruition for one reason or another.”
“The Times understands the latest consultants’ report concluded the barge museum would not be viable.
“It would have been built and run by the museum trust at no cost to the council and officials had offered to work with Whitstable Museum and Gallery on a possible joint scheme.
“But the report – presented to the harbour board in secret at their last meeting – is believed to have concluded that it would not provide the type of year-round attraction the board wanted. “