£16.62 refund - in notes and cash - hand delivered by Fenland Council to yachtsman who complained about day he moored at Crosskeys marina, Sutton Bridge
PUBLISHED: 16:07 17 October 2019
Fenland Council - who paid towards the £900,000 Crosskeys marina at Sutton Bridge - has been challenged after a Whittlesey yachtsman was charged, and later refunded, £16.62 for an overnight stay.
Brian Jones dropped into the marina on June 15 en route to Cornwall in his 30ft ketch to enable him to put up his mast ahead of a summer coastal cruise. "Two Fenland Council workers came after I had been there for about four hours and told me 'you've got 40 minutes to move otherwise we are towing you away back to Wisbech at your expense.'"
Mr Jones said he protested and eventually it was discussed with the harbour master via a phone call that he could stay until early morning the next day "which put me under pressure to get everything ready for sea.
He said: "But they also told me there would be a charge of £17.27 but I only had £16.62 in change and they accepted that. They gave me a hand written receipt for the money."
He said they were not able to allow him to stay officially as there were no facilities to stay.
That point was agreed by Fenland Council; in a hand delivered letter to Mr Jones at his Whittlesey home this week he was refunded the entire amount he had paid in cash and an official admitted Crosskeys did not have scope for visiting boats.
David Wright, complaints manager at Fenland Council, told Mr Jones: "Crosskeys marina does not offer a visiting option for boats so staff do not normally carry receipt boos.
"Normally we would post an official receipt but as we didn't have your address, we didn't send a receipt."
Mr Jones said: "It clearly states marina on the signs to Cross keys and at a marina you would surely expect there to be the option to drop in and stay overnight."
Crosskeys opened in September 2017 and both Lincolnshire County Council and Fenland District Council promised it would cater for up to 20 leisure boats. Moorings have electricity and water and Mr Jones said on the day he visited he occupied the last remaining berth.
"My issue remains though it doesn't cater for casual visitors which would surely be a fundamental principle of something that describes itself as a marina," said Mr Jones.
His complaint to Fenland Council also challenged them over other local boat owners who he says have not paid any sums of money to stay there since it opened.
Again Mr Wright appears to have agreed this might be so since in his letter to Mr Jones says: "Money was collected from you when you moored at Sutton Bridge even though other boat owners there said they had not been charged in the past two years.
"This was correct at the time you moored at Sutton Bridge. All boats have now been invoiced and back dated to recover mooring costs via Lincolnshire County Council."
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In another part of the complaint Mr Jones was told that his claim of being "threatened" by port staff was being investigated.
"I have spoken to our head of human resources who will carry out an internal investigation relating to the staff involved," said Mr Wright.
He has also received an apology, via Mr Wright, for responses he received from the district council's Whittlesey hub when he tried, initially, to make a complaint.
"I have spoken to the customer services manager who was very disappointed to hear that you were unhappy with the service you received at Whittlesey," said Mr. Wright.
"I can confirm that your comments will be used positively as a refresher training exercise for the customer services team concentrating on the 3cs complaints policy and procedure.
"The officer involved and the customer services manager would like to pass on their sincere apologies to you."
At the opening in 2017 Cllr Ralph Butcher, portfolio holder for growth at Fenland District Council said "This is a great example of local authority partnership working that demonstrates we are not constrained by artificial county and district boundaries to deliver joint projects.
"The new marina adds to the leisure and commercial offer on the River Nene and the wider Wash area and Fenland District Council is pleased to have designed and delivered the project on behalf of the partners.
"It also looks forward to managing the facility in tandem with its Wisbech Yacht Harbour moorings further upstream".
Funding for the project came from Lincolnshire County Council, Fenland District Council, Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and a section 106 community development fund for Sutton Bridge.
The marina was recently criticised by a parish councillor in Sutton Bridge as a line of "muddy berths" and questioned how much it had added to the tourism economy of the area.
However Lincolnshire County Council believes the marina has "been well received" and is looking to secure finance to expand it.
Simon Wright, principal officer for regeneration at Lincs county council, said: "Fenland District Council are experienced in running marinas and will ensure visitors to Sutton Bridge get the best service possible, making them more likely to return.
"We are currently in the process of finalising a deal with them regarding the management of the facility.
"However, the details of the contract are commercially sensitive and cannot be shared."