Still plenty of questions arising over marina project

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The spin put in the article “Village’s £750,000 marina project is ‘not for profit’” (Lincolnshire Free Press, June 7) by company secretary and director Mrs Rowe and others, is almost worthy of Alistair Campbell, if it were not so full of holes.

The phrase ‘The Nene Group’, hides the fact that Nene Marine Ltd is a limited company where the seven directors only have a potential personal liability limited to £1 each. It is set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC), a legal entity which has to be ‘not for profit’.

How does a ‘profit’ arise? Income in generated and if expenditure is less, a surplus or ‘profit’ is created. The expenditure includes directors’ remuneration. That remuneration (pay, expenses, pension contributions etc) is decided by the directors before the ‘profit’ figure is calculated. So to follow the ‘not for profit’ requirement of a CIC, the directors’ have to pay themselves the balance of income over expenditure!

There are so many unanswered questions surrounding the company and its project, that the directors’ reluctance to present their plans to the public, is of great concern to many people. To my knowledge, they have refused four invitations to speak to the public – two at different parish council meetings and two at recent annual parish meetings. The biggest question is why so much secrecy?

The following questions need answers:

l Will the marina really work? At a presentation by the retired Harbour Master of Wisbech Port Authority to a recent Parish Council meeting, he suggested that a stand alone 69 berth marina would not be financially viable.

l What ‘business plan’ has been put before SHDC to allow the release of Section 106 money?

l Where is the evidence to show usage of the marina? “Interest in the mooring facilities continues to grow ….” (Mary Powell LCC Tourism Development Officer)

l How much of the s106 money will be given to Nene Marine Limited?

l What other public money will be given to the company – how much and where from?

l A director (Mr Rowe) stated in his election leaflet that the marina will have 68 berths. A second director (Mrs Rowe) stated in her election leaflet that the marina will have 69 – has Mr Rowe ‘claimed’ one for himself?

l How can the company secretary (Mrs Rowe) claim that “Any (money) we get over and above that can be put into community projects”, when there should not be any ‘profits’ from a CIC? * Where is the evidence to support the claim “…it will bring money into the parish”? Boat owners and users are likely to bring their own supplies for use on their boats. Only while in use, and moored at Sutton Bridge, may there be a very small spin off benefit to the local pubs, but to which other businesses?

l Do the directors have the competence and technical or business skills to run a marina?

l Is the Environment Agency satisfied that cutting into the west bank of the river, to provide car parking, will not weaken it?

Mary Powell (LCC tourism development officer) says that “there are no private companies involved.” Although a CIC is not a ‘private company’, the only beneficiaries of that company will be the directors. She then goes on to say: “Of course, we hope the marina becomes successful enough to turn a profit.” This appears to be a contradiction in terms, when the company is a ‘not for profit’ CIC?

l And finally, who will have to pick up the pieces if the Nene Marine Limited fails?

I personally have no objections to a marina itself, but I am not alone in having very strong reservations as to who will actually benefit – will it be the parish, the boat owners, or as I suspect, only the directors of Nene Marine Ltd?

Chris Brandon-King (Mr)

Nightingale Way

Sutton Bridge