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Council bosses invited on boat trip to see how vital harbour watchmen are

Macduff harbour
Macduff harbour

A north-east skipper has invited Aberdeenshire Council bosses to experience what life would be like without harbour watchmen.

John Clark, skipper of the Reliance II, has made the challenge to council chiefs after launching a petition urging officials to end their “review” of Macduff’s harbour watchmen posts.

It is understood Aberdeenshire Council could replace the job with CCTV cameras which would be monitored remotely.

It has been opposed by fishermen including Mr Clark and the Macduff Harbour Advisory Board who have warned the pier area could become the scene of anti-social behaviour.

In his letter to the council, Mr Clark said: “This meeting would be to highlight the safety concerns and dangers faced and being expressed from our fishing industry and harbour users in regards to the removal of the harbour night watchmen service, as well as giving yourself and appropriate officers of Aberdeenshire Council the opportunity to witness the health and safety concerns first hand.

“We would then return and enter the harbour unaided and without the service in question, highlighting the difficulties and dangers this causes to crew boat and the harbour with the removal of the service.”

More than 400 people have already signed his petition.

Backing Mr Clark’s campaign, local councillor Hamish Partridge called on the council to accept his challenge.

“This meeting is in regards to the catastrophic decision by Aberdeenshire Council to remove a vitally important service from our harbour in Macduff,” he said.

“I can see how this kind invite would be extremely beneficial to officers so they can see and witness first hand the dangers our fishermen and harbour users face with the removal of our watchman service.”

Last night, Aberdeenshire Council did not confirm that it would be accepting Mr Clark’s invitation.

Philip Mckay, the authority’s head of roads, said: “While we appreciate the removal of this role from the structure will mean changes locally, we have had to take into account that the harbour has significantly less commercial activity than when these posts were created.

“We are also looking at providing improved technology that will be accessible to harbour users, such as a depth gauge that will allow vessels to access to access real-time information.”

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