Published: 00:15, 13 January 2018
The tide could be turning for Sheppey after initial plans for a new harbour were given an early thumbs up.
More than 30 Islanders gave their support for the scheme at a meeting at the Royal Hotel, Sheerness, on Thursday, called by Dave Wilcock.
Mr Wilcock, from Blue Town, is launching a new ferry service between Sheppey and Southend in May, and wants to put together a not-for-profit organisation to push through the ambitious harbour scheme.
He intends to bid for cash from the government’s £40 million Coastal Community Fund.
The concept of a harbour near the Ship on Shore pub in Marine Parade is the brainchild of Sheppey Sailing Club member, Tim Bell.
Mr Bell told the meeting: “This idea has not been plucked out of thin air. It was first suggested by Colin Overton, a former coastguard officer and member of the former Catamaran Yacht Club.
“He wanted to build a ramp at the Ship on Shore many years ago so boats could be launched into deep water.
“This is the ideal place, it has some of the deepest water along the coast.
“Sheppey has been chronically underfunded.
“It is crazy an island like this has nowhere for anglers to launch their boats in safety.
“The ramp along the coastal road near the White House is not fit for purpose. It is covered by shingle and the tide goes out too far.
“Yet at Herne Bay, it is a completely different kettle of fish.
“It has an artificial harbour arm, which provides a sheltered bay for sailors and fishermen. And there is plenty of space to park trailers and cars.
“There is a public car park in front of the Ship On Shore and a grass area which could be used.”
Mr Bell, 72, of Scrapsgate Road, Minster, is also chairman of the Sheppey Sailability Trust, which owns a seven-seater boat.
He said the harbour could be used by disabled sailors and Sheppey Sea Cadets to teach them how to sail.
Mr Wilcock admitted: “No one denies this is going to take a while but it will create jobs and boost the Island’s tourism.
“It could include a small pier where businesses could set up huts, let pleasure craft moor and allow bathers to swim safely from a new sandy beach.”
The idea was previously raised by a SheppeyProud survey hosted by Sheppey Matters two years ago.
A Swale council spokesman said: “As with any other business proposition, the council would be pleased to review and discuss any feasibility study and/or business plan when developed.”