Agenda item

It was resolved by Community & Resources on 1 February that:


That the closure of Appledore Slipway for jet skies with suitable bollards being positioned to enable continued access for swimmers and canoeists, and the decision for Bank End to be left to the Harbour Board be agreed.



To receive the report of the Head of Communities and Place.




The following members of the public addressed the meeting, delineating their concerns regarding the decision to ban the launching of jet skis and the use of bollards to close Appledore slipway:


·         Mr Tristan Gubb

·         Mr Darren Sparrey,

·         Mr Owen Atkinson

·         Mayor of Northam, Councillor Chalmers


Their concerns/comments included:


o   Tristan Gubb and Darren Sparrey are regular jet ski users of the slipway and have been for many years.


o   There are 13 businesses currently operate and use the slipway


o   Only a small number of people misuse the slipway.  


o   Permission had been granted for the Jet Ski Club Company to supply and instal signs clearly showing the rules at Appledore free of charge.


o   Accusations on parking and other issues are aimed at jet ski users


o   In 2013 Torridge was asked what actions they would take following the tragic accident involving a jet ski at Padstow.  The Council’s response was read to the meeting by Mr Darren Sparrey.  The Code of Conduct which is available on the Council’s website refers to the speed limit of 6 knots – it was said that no craft obeys this speed limit, but jet skis are being unfairly singled out.


o   On behalf of Northam Town Council, the Mayor reported that after debating this issue the Town Council overwhelming agreed that Torridge should examine this matter further. There are businesses who use the slipway, including businesses that are dependent on tourism.


All public speakers thanked the Chair for allowing them to speak at the meeting.


The purpose of the report was for Members to scrutinise the following decision of Community and Resources Committee that:


“The closure of Appledore Slipway for jet skies with suitable bollards being positioned to enable continued access for swimmers and canoeists, and the decision for Bank End to be left to the Harbour Board be agreed”.



The Head of Legal & Governance detailed the procedures that had taken place prior to this meeting.   The decision of Community & Resources Committee (C&R) had been called in by four Members for review by this Committee.  If Members remain concerned with the decision, it can be referred back to C&R with recommendations from this Committee.     If C&R do not agree with the recommendations the original decision will be referred to Full Council.


The Chair invited the four Members to give their reasons as to why they had called in the decision.   Councillor Jones had not been present at this meeting.


Councillor Pennington had called in the decision as Chair of External Overview & Scrutiny Committee.   His concerns were not only about jet skis but also the wider environmental issues in the Taw & Torridge estuary.   


Councillor McGeough stated that because of the lack of information at C&R he believed the wrong decision had been made.   Also, there was no proof from the Public Health & Housing Manager that there are health & safety issues.  The decision would penalise visitors and tourists.  The jet ski Club had offered to update the signage free of charge.  The main issue going forward would be to educate all users of the slipway.


Councillor Langford commented that having watched the meeting she had been persuaded that jet skis could be conceived as being an issue but did not think that any sort of barrier was the answer because of access to a lot of people.


Councillor Newton stated that he had been led to believe that the slipway is a rough water launch site for the RNLI and the placing of bollards could impede the launching of the lifeboat.  This had not been considered at C&R, but he now realises this is not correct.  In a tourism area on the waterfront this should be opened up and not closed down.


The Head of Communities & Place confirmed he had been contacted by the RNLI.  He reported that no scheme had yet been devised because the decision is still under scrutiny.   The decision at C&R had been to ban jet skis, it is difficult to ban without control. 


The Committee gave a great deal of consideration and debate to this item, during which time it became evident that the consensus was this matter goes back to C&R for further discussion.  The main priority of Members was safety. 


The concerns/comments made included:


o   Further discussion needed on safety issues.


o   More information on how the bollards would work, including costings, should be provided, together with other ideas such as a warden system and how effective this system would be. 


o   A full review into how the whole area is managed to be carried out as there are much wider environmental issues to be considered.


o   There is an absence of regulations - clear regulations are required.


o   To review the Estuary Strategy (this item is included on this Committees Forward Plan.


o   C&R be asked to reconsider the putting up of bollards but to continue with their decision to ban jet skis.



Throughout the debate legal advice was given by the Head of Legal & Governance.   Clear clarification was given on the contents of the original Notice of Motion.


The Chief Executive stated that the Notice of Motion debated at C&R had been to ban jet skis.  This had been supported by C&R and in order to mitigate health and safety issues and to facilitate the decision it had been agreed to the use of bollards. The decision had not yet been implemented because it had been called in.


From further comments made it became apparent that Members required C&R to give this matter further consideration because of the much wider implications by the imposition of bollards.  


Following a proposal by Councillor Newton, all other proposals put forward were withdrawn.


It was proposed by Councillor Newton, seconded by Councillor Manley and –




That due to the wider implications, Internal Overview & Scrutiny Committee do not agree the decision of Community & Resources Committee to ban the launching of jet skis or the closure of Appledore Slipway with the use of bollards.


A recorded vote was taken.






Cllr Boughton, R




Cllr Cottle-Hunkin, C



Mr S Dengate


Cllr Gubb, J



Cllr Hames, P


Mr I Harper




Cllr C Hawkins



Cllr Inch, A



Cllr Langford, S



Cllr Manley, J




Cllr Newton, S




Cllr Watson, P





(Vote:  For 9, Abstentions 2)

Supporting documents: