Donaghadee Harbour (Transfer of Harbour Undertaking) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:45 pm on 2nd March 2015.

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Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP 12:45 pm, 2nd March 2015

I beg to move

That the Donaghadee Harbour (Transfer of Harbour Undertaking) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 be affirmed.

The harbour is managed by my Department, overseen by the Donaghadee Harbour Commissioners, who are civil servants from my Department. Two staff, a harbour master and an assistant, are employed directly at the harbour. My Department is not well placed to manage a harbour or to oversee it remotely from Clarence Court. The focus has been on keeping the harbour open and as safe as is practicable, with due regard being given to its special heritage qualities.

More recently, our policy has been to transfer Donaghadee harbour from its current status as a trust port to that of a municipal harbour owned and managed by the relevant local authority. There are firm practical grounds supporting this option. Local councils are already harbour authorities and, therefore, competent to undertake the associated management responsibilities. The transfer would also address the practical difficulties and inefficiencies associated with operating a singleton harbour; for example, in arranging emergency cover and maximising the utilisation of the specialised harbour staff. It would also enable the anachronistic legislation associated with the harbour to be repealed. Sometimes words are easier written than said; I must speak again to my officials.

[Laughter.]

The transfer is linked to the review of public administration proposals and the reorganisation of councils and is, therefore, expected to happen in parallel with those changes from 1 April 2015. The order has been subject to public consultation in accordance with the Department's guidelines. My Department is grateful for the responses that have been received to the consultation and notes that there were no objections to the order.

I am also grateful for the consideration that has been given to the proposal by my Executive colleagues and the Regional Development Committee. The Examiner of Statutory Rules has also considered the order and did not make any formal comments in his ninth report of this session. That has allowed the order to be brought forward to the debate to seek affirmation.

In summary, the order will transfer Donaghadee harbour from the commissioners to North Down and Ards District Council

[Interruption.]

Ards Borough Council.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP

That might become a matter for resignation. I had better correct that.

[Laughter.]

That will include all the functions, property rights, liabilities and obligations. The two members of staff who are employed at the harbour will also transfer to the council, and that will be achieved through the promotion of a transfer scheme. The order will also seek to wind up and dissolve the existing commission. I, therefore, recommend the Donaghadee Harbour (Transfer of Harbour Undertaking) Order to the House.

Photo of Trevor Clarke Trevor Clarke DUP

The Committee for Regional Development considered the policy for the legislation at its meeting of 10 December 2014 and was content with the merits of the policy. The statutory rule came before members at the meeting of 18 February 2014, and members had no objections to it. The Committee for Regional Development, therefore, supports the motion.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

I welcome the detail that the Minister has set out on the proposals. On behalf of Alliance Party council colleagues in the area and businesspeople who have been in touch with me, I seek his assurances that the transfer will be conducted with the harbour in an adequate state of repair.

Photo of Danny Kennedy Danny Kennedy UUP

I am grateful to the members and Chair of the Regional Development Committee for their positive support and the scrutiny that they have undertaken. I thank the Chair for that. I also indicate to Mr Lyttle that my officials have been in close consultation with council officials to resolve any outstanding issues. We confidently expect those to be resolved in time for the transfer to take legal effect.

I am glad that the House has agreed the transfer of Donaghadee harbour. I am somewhat sorry to see it go. It never had a navy. Nonetheless, I think that the council will be best placed to undertake its management in the future. I wish all the staff involved well and thank them for their contribution.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That the Donaghadee Harbour (Transfer of Harbour Undertaking) Order (Northern Ireland) 2015 be affirmed.