Following objections lodged against Littlehampton Harbour Board’s schedule of charges, fees and dues for the years 2018-19 and 2019-20 under Section 31 of the Harbour Act 1964, a Public Inquiry took place between the 12th and 15th October 2021. The Secretary of State’s decision letter was sent to the Objectors (with a copy forwarded to LHB and other stakeholders) on the 31st March 2022 along with the Inspector’s detailed report.
The letter’s conclusion reads:
“… the Secretary of State has decided, in his judgment, to approve the harbour charges levied by LHB in 2018/19 and 2019/20 in accordance with section 31(6)(a) of the 1964 Act. It follows that the Secretary of State approves the recommendation of the Inspector concerning Issues 1 and 1A, that LHB’s budget setting process for 2018-2019 was logical and appropriate, that it carefully considered the needs of stakeholders, the consequences of increasing charges and dues on different stakeholder groups and strove to reach fair and equitable increases for all users. The claim that the additional 8% charge Harbour Dues for pleasure craft and charter vessels was unfair is not well founded. With regards to Issues 2 and 2A, the Secretary of State has fully reviewed and considered your objections under s31(2)(b)(ii) of the 1964 Act that, irrespective of Issue 1, Harbour Dues relating to all categories of vessels for 2018-2019 were uncompetitive, excessive, and should be reduced to a level of one third or no more than 50% of the 2017-2018 charges. The Secretary of State accepts the Inspector’s conclusion that the evidence was not persuasive to find in favour of the Objectors. It follows that the Secretary of State approves the recommendation of the Inspector that it is not necessary that Harbour Dues for all vessels for the year 2019-2020 should be reduced to a level of no more than 50% of the 2017-2018 charges. With regards to Issue 3, the Secretary of State has fully reviewed and considered the claim by the Ferry Company under s31(2)(b)(ii) of the 1964 Act that Harbour Dues on passengers of the ferry operating within the harbour ought not to be imposed at all. The Secretary of State acknowledges that the Ferry Company’s objection raises a question of law which is outside the scope of this Inquiry under section 31 of the 1964 Act and is therefore dismissed.”