Friends of PW called the meeting on October 9th to enable varying views to be aired and discussed. The event was well attended with 98 people (just 2 off the maximum allowance in the Folk Hall) turning up to listen/contribute. Thanks go to the chair, David Francis, for coping well with the heated discussion.
Thanks also to Giles Morris (FoPW), Chris Giles (PMML and AWT), Arthur Terry (PMMLand PTC) and Bevis Watts (AWT) for answering so many of the questions directed at theirrepresented organisations. The contribution of Councillor Burden was appreciated, and wethank other councillors for attending including Councillors Oyns, Mason, Lord and Jolley.
Official representation from NSC would have been valuable, but invitations were declined and nobody was there to face the issues brought up by residents. Councillor Pasley submitted a statement regarding the decision making process. The VQAG also declined to present a statement regarding their opinion on the current situation.
A variety of issues were raised. Examples being the questioning of why NSC is making this intervention, the potential threat to the ecological status of Portbury Wharf, the rerouting of power lines, a demand for clearer details about the spending of residents contributions, the need to understand more about the pros and cons of a change in management, and the possibility of a community body taking ownership of the land.
Unfortunately many more crucial topics were not fully aired due to time constraints. For example, the long term implications of deed covenants, the fact that current funding is due to end on December 31st with no clear management provision from January 1st, and the legality of NSCs intervention and their plan to appropriate accumulated funds held in trust.
The meeting has demonstrated that the issue of Portbury wharf matters a great deal to residents of Portishead, and beyond, and that people are confused and frustrated by the situation we find ourselves in. Alongside the fears regarding the future of the Reserve some people expressed concerns suggesting that Avon Wildlife Trust needs to be more engaging and communicative with residents.
We all look forward to the publication of the delayed NSC report and welcome the opportunity to discuss and debate its implications.
Linda / Lynda Hale , Vice Chair, Clerk, Portbury Parish Council