'Urgent and essential' pontoon replacement and repair works at Torquay Town Dock, to be paid for by £1.2 million in borrowing, have been approved by Torbay Council’s cabinet.
According to a report prepared for cabinet, the pontoons, installed in 2007, are currently relying on emergency maintenance to keep them safe and useable.
The steelworks that make up part of the floating pontoons at the town dock, also known as the ‘people’s pontoon’, are starting to lose their structural integrity. Two sections had to be replaced recently because they were becoming unsafe. Some of the floats that support the pontoons are also starting to fail.
There are environmental concerns, too. The floating pontoons are made from polystyrene which has started to fall apart, leading to plastic beads falling away and polluting the sea. It’s hoped that all the floating pontoons will be replaced over the course of the repairs.
Cllr Christine Carter, who sits on the council’s harbour committee said: “It’s no good doing little bits of it, doing the little repair here and there. It’s so bad now we really need to replace the whole thing and put these pontoons in. We really don’t want to have to close any of the Town Dock or lose any moorings or income.”
Cllr Cordelia Law told the cabinet: “We can’t not do it. If we don’t do it we will lose income, we’ll be knowingly polluting our environment and our marine conservation zone. That’s unacceptable.”
Cllr Chris Lewis said the Conservative opposition supported the measures, adding: “We’ve got to put this money into our infrastructure. It is our bed and breakfast if you like. When people come here people want to see that our harbours, and especially our town dock, are up to scratch.”
The decision to borrow the £1.2 million project will now go to full council, who are expected to approve the decision.
The first phase of works is scheduled to commence this winter and be completed in the winter of 2023/2024. The council plans on keeping the docks open during the entire restoration process. During the refurbishment of the main access bridge to the dock, a temporary bridge will be installed at the ferry pontoon.
Torquay Town Dock, designed to provide affordable berths for local boat owners, was installed in 2007 at a cost of £1.1 million to provide berths for 175 vessels from six to 13 metres in length. It has proved popular, bringing in £334,000 of income in 2020/21.
Amongst its users are the Disabled Sailing Association, Torbay British Sub Aqua Club, The Royal Torbay Yacht Club as well as the local Sea Scouts and Rowing Club.
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