Burry Port harbour operator enters administration
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
The company which operates Carmarthenshire’s only harbour has gone into administration.
Carmarthenshire Council, which awarded a 150-year lease to Burry Port Marina Ltd in 2018, said it was working with administrators.
But the company’s director, Chris Odling-Smee, said the administration order was to protect the business while a capital refinancing deal went through, and that the intention was to fulfil its responsibilities at the harbour, which is home to a lifeboat station and badly needs dredging.
The council’s cabinet was given an update by Councillor Gareth John, who has the regeneration, leisure, culture and tourism brief, on Monday, June 19.
He said senior officers were liaising with administrators and that the outcome the authority sought was a safe, fully-functioning and attractive harbour.
He added that discussions were “live and dynamic” and he wasn’t at liberty to go into detail.
He reiterated, though, that the council’s aspirations for the harbour were aligned with those of campaign group Friends of Burry Port Harbour and local councillors, and said the position would become “far clearer” in due course.
In January, Friends of Burry Port Harbour presented a petition to the council which said the harbour had deteriorated to an essentially unworkable state and desperately needed a comprehensive programme of dredging.
In response, the council said it had served Burry Port Marina Ltd with a legal notice outlining breaches of the lease, along with a requirement for a clear, measurable, and time-bound plan of action to address concerns.
Mr Odling-Smee told the Local Democracy Reporting Service three months ago that the company “weren’t quitters” and remained committed to Burry Port harbour, despite it being a loss-making operation.
Speaking again on Monday, Mr Odling-Smee said he acknowledged that the council wanted a resolution and the repayment of money owed by the company, which is in arrears.
“The administration order is to protect the business while we complete on a capital refinancing process, which is progressing,” he said.
Completion of the deal, he said, was “still some weeks away”.
Parent company The Marine and Property Group and most of its subsidiary businesses have entered administration.
“We have no intention of not paying creditors through this process,” said Mr Odling-Smee.
He added that he was aware residents in Burry Port were “exasperated” and that he was sorry things were taking so long.
“My determination to deliver on our ultimate promises remains,” he said.
Burry Port councillors John James and Shelly Godfrey-Coles said they were concerned that the lack of action could prove deadly and have written to Mr Odling-Smee and the council.
“Shelly and I were told of the dangers by different sources, in particular due to the fact that the dredging work had not been carried out, so we felt we had to write to key figures as well as inform the public, who share our concerns, and the fact that a fatality could occur at any time,” they said.
Friends of Burry Port Harbour chairman David Williams said the group was extremely disappointed with the lack of progress.
“The harbour is so full of sand, children play football on it where boats should be floating,” he said.
He said the group has repeatedly asked for a health and safety inspection at the site.
“We need the council to address the issues we have raised, and we need physical work to start now,” he said.
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