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Fishermen handed Moray harbour charges boost

By Alan Beresford

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MORAY fishermen have netted a boost after harbour charges were frozen for the next financial year.

The move came as Moray Council set its budget for 2021-22 yesterday (Thursday). Local SNP councillors David Bremner (Fochabers-Lhanbryde) and Sonya Warren (Buckie) put forward a motion calling on harbour charges for the fishing industry to be frozen

At the meeting SNP councillors welcomed support for a motion to freeze harbour charges for the fishing industry in a bid to ease financial pressures on an industry which has suffered since Brexit.

Councillor David Bremner, who proposed the freeze said: “In common with businesses across Scotland, businesses in Moray have been directly impacted by the unresolved exporting issues caused by Brexit since the start of the year.

"Although the council has been distributing the business grant funding support coming from the Scottish Government for Covid disruption, regretfully the recent Brexit problems which are creating further headaches for business are beyond the council’s remit to solve.

“However, as we are in control of harbour charges, and the fishing industry is one of the sectors most affected, it was sensible that we provided a little bit of relief to the industry where we could, by freezing a range of charges for this year. I welcome the support from councillors across the council who, after some debate, almost unanimously supported the motion.”

Councillor Warren, who seconded the motion, said: “I welcome this freeze on harbour charges for the fishing fleet in Moray.

"They have been badly affected by problems with getting their catch to their traditional EU markets, and any help that we can give them will, I hope, be welcomed.

“We will continue to help and support local businesses through these trying times wherever we can.”

However, Councillor Marc Macrae (Fochabers-Lhanbryde, Conservative) proposed a total freeze on all harbour charge increases, commercial and leisure for the coming financial year. This was seconded by Councillor James Allan.

After a tied vote at 13-13, his motion fell on the casting vote of council convener Councillor Shona Morrison (Fochabers-Lhanbryde, SNP).

Councillor Macrae commented: “Given the difficulties being faced by many during this pandemic it is vital that we support everyone in our communities as we recover from the effects of Covid.

“These charges can place a significant burden on many and it is only right that in line with the support from government to others that we as a local authority do our best to prevent a demise in harbour usage or activity and promote the recovery and growth from the grass roots of leisure users right up to the large scale commercial operators.

“Sadly we did not obtain the support of councillors from across the various groups and whilst I am pleased we see a freezing of some increases to charges I would rather have seen a freeze to all increases for the coming financial year.”

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