10 Feb 2017 - Local councillor's questions to Mayor and Council on power-boat racing

Hotwells and Harbourside councillor, Mark Wright, has been trying to find out what the Mayor's and Council's plans are for the return of power-boat racing, which has been touted in the media. This hasnt been easy, as the Council is being very coy about it all! So Mark submitted formal questions to the Mayor, outlined below:

Questions to the Mayor:

* What planning has been done on the feasibility of this event; who has done it; and when will they be speaking to the residents of houseboats, and the business based on the water, who will be turfed out of their homes for a week if it happens?

* If the Mayor is intent on bringing this event to Bristol, has he considered holding it in the Avon Gorge (at high tide), where no house-boats would need to be evicted, no business would be disrupted, and any crashes into the mud would be unlikely to be fatal?

Response from the Mayor:

The company proposing to bring this event to Bristol is BRM Europe which was established in 2015 by two former F1 Powerboat Racing Champions both of whom have experience in Inshore Powerboat Racing. Their aim is to promote the sport of Powerboat Racing in the UK and establish new race venues for the future of the sport.

In September, October and November 2016 BRM held various meeting with the Mayor and officers from his team and the Harbourmaster to discuss the feasibility of a powerboat racing event in Bristol.

BCC events team carried out an initial feasibility report and that cleared the way for organisers to do more detailed feasibility study. BRM would appoint a local event management company to deliver the event under the direction of BRM’s management committee which would be subject to all normal council process. The event would need to apply for site permissions and get permission from the Safety Advisor group as well as securing all relevant licenses.

In terms of safety, the craft used for powerboat racing are very different now to those used in the 1980s – powerboats now have safety cells to protect the drivers. An equivalent comparison would be to Formula 1 racing’s health and safety improvements since the 1980s.

Avon Gorge is not a suitable alternative venue to view the event. The layout of the Harbour would give a far better viewing experience and on a practical level, there is on site power and fencing over much of the site. It is important to note this is a water based event in a harbour that has a surfeit of land based events. It will bring economic benefit to the city without some of the barriers that come with other major events i.e. significant road closures.

Question to Harbour Master:

* What will happen to residents and businesses, based on boats in the harbour, during the week the event would occur on?

Response from the Harbour Master:

If the City is looking to hold and event like this and the Mayor is willing to allow it to happen then the Harbour Authority will have to facilitate as best it can to allow this event to happen.

Bristol Harbour is still a "Competent Harbour Authority" (CHA), therefore under primary legislation of the Harbour, Docks and Piers Act (1847) we have the powers to move any vessel berthed within its waters. If the event were to be held then with the backing of Bristol City Council the Harbour Authority would use these powers to move all vessels out of the area needed.

Within the area needed there is only 3 legitimate Commercial moorings (Grain Barge, Noble Masts and Kyle Blue) and 4 legitimate residential moorings (Energie, Nostra Vota, An Grochall Moor, and De Jong De Ide), every other vessel is here on a "leisure" licence and does not have rights of tenure and as part of their licence can be moved for any commercial reason anyhow.

I would hope those with a commercial and residential moorings would see this as a great opportunity to showcase the Harbour and Bristol and to help put back much needed funds and investment into the harbour (which is greatly needed) to enable them to take advantage of the facility which as we know is one of the main attractions to the City.

The plans are for the boats to be moved out of the area needed should the event take place.

Depending upon if the Dry-dock is leased then some can go into there (I believe this is what happened before). The rest can go up St Augustine’s Reach and under Prince Street to be rafted up further round either in Bathurst Basin or beyond Redcliffe Bridge. It is hoped that we should not have to use Cumberland Basin but this is also an option.

Redcliffe Bridge is still inoperable. The boats that would fit under the bridge ( under 3.2m air draft) without it lifting may well be moved here.