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Former harbour master “let down” but move to scrap night watchmen posts

Macduff harbour
Macduff harbour

A former north-east harbour master has condemned a move to scrap Macduff’s night watchmen post, an initiative he implemented 30 years ago.

Captain Colin Bullen served as the harbour master at Macduff in the 1980s and early 1990s. During his tenure he created the night watchmen posts to improve safety at the docks.

Now Aberdeenshire Council is working to ditch the role and use CCTV cameras instead.

But Captain Bullen, who now lives in nearby Whitehills, last night called for a rethink to the policy which he described as a “safety hazard”.

“I’m an ex-harbour master and the man who introduced the night watchmen. I’m very disappointed by this. I introduced them to Macduff in the 1980s.

“There was nobody there from 5pm to 8am. It was important for safety and they could take messages for me in the morning.”

The 85-year-old, who worked for the Northern Lighthouse Board before moving to Macduff, described the move by Aberdeenshire Council as “terrible”.

“There is a safety hazard here they are paying no attention to,” he added. “At the time they were all for it, now they’re supporting this. I felt awful to read this. I feel a bit let down.”

Yesterday the Press and Journal revealed that the Scottish White Fish Association (SWFA) had waded into the war of words between the local authority and Macduff skippers.

In a letter to Aberdeenshire Council, SWFA chief executive Michael Park said the group was taking a “keen interest” in the Macduff situation and warned that the council was opening the possibility of “unthinkable, unintended consequences”.

“Fishermen in Britain have a one in 20 chance of being killed on the job during the course of their working lives,” he said.

“It is disappointing, therefore, to see Aberdeenshire Council, which is the centre for UK fishing, take a decision that has the potential to increase those odds.”

In response to Mr Park a spokesman for the council insisted that the new approach will not impact “the safety of harbour users”.

He added: “We’ll be retaining a dedicated on-call member of staff 24 hours a day should support be required at Macduff.”

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