Outgoing Chairman Derek MurrayThe severe storm that occurred on 5th December 2013 dealt a crippling blow to Portgordon.  There were many houses flooded on Stewart Street and on Lennox Place and the harbours east pier took a severe pounding resulting in major structural damage.  To put the storm in perspective, many people compared it to the great gales of 1953 which also caused extensive damage along the coast.

The damage to the East Pier has been a massive set-back for Portgordon Community Harbour Group, it also dealt a severe blow to all the harbour users, and it has raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of Portgordon’s sea defences. 

The extent of the damage has also brought into question the aims and objectives of PCHG Ltd (which was ultimately to refurbish the harbour and take it under community control).  The Group have therefore been considering what direction we should take in the future.  However no firm decision has been taken as yet while we await the outcome of the Crown Estates lengthy deliberations as to what their intentions are for the east pier, and for the harbour as a whole.  The future for the east pier will hopefully be revealed by the Crown at a public meeting to be held here in the Lampie Hoose on Monday 26th May.  However the future of the rest of the harbour is likely to remain unclear for some time yet.  Other than the emergency repairs carried out by the Ghurkha’s in the 1980’s there has been little or no maintenance works carried out since the harbour closed in 1947, so the potential for further damage to the harbour remains a real possibility.  Does the village sit back and do nothing?  What are the options?  If the current upturn of interest in Portgordon’s development potential could be channelled in a more positive way, this might just help us secure the harbours future.  I believe the best platform to campaign for harbour repairs and improvements is through the well-established Portgordon Community Harbour Group, building on all the good work done by the Group in the last 11 years.

With such a small committee the Group again took the decision not to hold a gala in 2014 and, unfortunately, other fundraising activities have also been very limited.  However, I can confirm that the Group remains on a firm, albeit limited, financial footing.

It was disappointing to note that the plans for a new Village Hall at the harbour-side have been ditched as this would have added greatly to the regeneration of the harbour area.  However we wish the Hall Committee well with their revised plans for a much needed upgrade to the existing hall.

Despite all the set-backs in the last year I still believe the harbour area has tremendous potential and could once again become the centre of the community.

As the Group have reported previously, it is regrettable that we have not been able to progress all our plans due to a lack of available resources.  However I can confirm that the Committee has worked hard throughout the last year, keeping pressure on the relevant authorities to deal with the damaged east pier and the removal, at long last, of the dangerous boat and other vessels which had been left abandoned on the middle pier.  We have also continued to try and keep the community fully informed of the Group’s activities, particularly through our dedicated website, www.portgordonharbour.org and the Group are grateful for the ongoing support from Taylors the Chemist of Buckie for their sponsorship of the website.        

Credit must therefore go to all the Committee Members who have served the Group over the last year and I would particularly like to thank Malcolm Smith, our Vice Chairman and Website Co-ordinator who has intimated to the Group that he now wishes to take a less active role in the Groups’ affairs.  I would also like to thank Kay, Lee and Bill and also Councillor Howe for all her support.

On a personal note, I have recently advised the Group that due to home and work commitments I no longer wish to be considered for an office bearers position.  At a time when the Group are having to review their aims and objectives and possibly having to change its course, it is perhaps a suitable time for me to stand aside and let someone else take the helm.  I am however not leaving the Group altogether and will be happy to help wherever I can. 

PCHG have always encouraged new members to come forward with fresh ideas but this has sometimes proved difficult in the past with most of us living such busy lives.  However hopefully new volunteers will come forward to help PCHG survive and continue into the future.  The harbour needs all the help it can get at the moment and it would be a tragedy if the Group had to fold and all the good work done over the last 11 years ended up being for nothing!  

Derek Murray Chairman Portgordon Community Harbour Group Ltd

21st May 2014

Portgordon Community Harbour Group Ltd - registered Scottish Charity No: SC040805
Patron: Mrs Clare Russell - Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire
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