Bid to block £600,000 research package for £175m third harbour project
CALLS have been made to abandon the £175million third harbour project in Torbay.
A bid to block the £600,000 research package for the project has been made by Torbay Lib Dems.
And Torre and Upton Community Partnership and Labour councillor Darren Cowell are calling for mayor Gordon Oliver to give up his plan.
Steve Darling, Lib Dem group leader, said: "It doesn't make sense that mayor Oliver plans to spend £600,000 of rate payers' money looking into a project which by his own figures will cost more than the bypass, create few jobs and take decades to recoup its cost.
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"The people of Torbay need high-quality, year-round jobs, which the third harbour cannot provide."
They have submitted a motion to halt the project before it gets off the ground.
They say it will not bring in enough tourism to warrant the cost, provide too few jobs and will not be able to accommodate big ships like one of this year's visitor, the Princendam.
The matter will be debated by Torbay's full council meeting on Thursday, July 12.
Mayor Oliver said the third harbour was an election promise.
It is designed to attract big cruise ships with the creation of the new harbour and could boost the Bay economy by millions, it has been claimed.
The Bay's harbour committee voted by majority to fund the first feasibility report by up to £250,000 out of harbour reserves.
But Cllrs Jenny Faulkner and Andrew Baldrey, harbour committee members, are due to put the Lib Dem motion to next week's meeting.
Cllr Baldrey voted against the harbour research move at the committee.
Cllr Faulkner, who abstained from voting at the committee, said: "I don't think it is right to support it with that level of finance that will cost the people of Torbay."
Up to £250,000 from harbour committee reserves will be used to undertake a feasibility study into the project.
But a report into the project predicts the entire package of reports into the project is expected to cost £600,000.
Cllr Cowell is due to put a question to the mayor at next week's meeting.
He claimed: "The scheme a distraction from other more immediate projects for regeneration."
Chris Thomas, treasurer of the Torre and Upton Community Partnership, has written to harbour committee chairman Vic Ellery to clarify why the committee agreed to fund the study.
He wrote: "It would be an astute move by the harbours committee and or the mayor to abandon this venture and commit what limited resources there are to more achievable and immediate goals."
The calls come after Cllr Darling unsuccessfully called for a cap to be put on reserves.
He said there should be a cap of £500,000 that the mayor can access before going to full council for approval.
The call came on chairman John Thomas' casting vote at the last overview and scrutiny meeting.
"I am concerned we need to be keeping an eye on the funds," he said.
Fellow Lib Dem Ruth Pentney said: "I do worry about sums of money where we have more than half a million basically being thrown into the harbour."