Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
Council agree change to charges as harbours and marina income up by almost 20% in MEA
Sailors visiting Carrickfergus Marina can continue to “buy a night, get a free night’s stay” in a bid to boost the local economy, Mid and East Antrim councillors have decided.
The decision comes as councillors considered the borough’s harbours and marinas income which has increased by almost one fifth, at a meeting of the council’s Direct Services Committee last week.
Ballymena Independent Councillor James Henry noted it has seen “a very significant increase” since the previous year despite a rise in berthing fees.
By the end of December, fees have brought in more than £0.5m for the borough council, a rise of 18.4 per cent this financial year.
During the financial year 2020/21, Mid and East Antrim’s marinas and harbours realised an income of £610,000 despite restrictions due to the Covid pandemic. The previous year, this income was £596,743.
Members have been told previously income of £700k could be achieved through an increase in charges.
Councillors have approved that rib/small leisure boats rates are “standardised” with a discount off standard berthing rates for these categories and fisherman’s rates are to be ended at Carnlough Harbour. There are seven fishermen berths at Carnlough Harbour resulting in a loss of £733 income. Standard rates will have to be paid from 2024/25.
A decrease in motorhome charges to £20 at Portglenone Marina was also approved at the meeting following a loss of income from a previous rise which saw bookings drop by 64 per cent from 276 in 2021 to 99 in 2022 and income decrease from £4,000 to £2,617.
The fee reduction at Portglenone Marina has been approved to attract more motorhomes, councillors were told.
Bannside DUP Alderman Tommy Nicholl MBE spoke of the need to “get balance and recognise that we are living in times where everybody is affected by this financial crisis”.
“We certainly don’t want to be overplaying our hand. I urge the officers to be careful what they are recommending.”
He proposed to approve the officers’ recommendations seconded by Braid DUP Cllr Beth Adger MBE.