WATCHET Marina, the operator of which is hoping to negotiate a 200-year lease with landlords Somerset Council, has remained closed for business after the office was shut on December 22 when all communication was cut off until further notice.
No staff have been available to greet visitors, answer the office telephone, or maintain facilities for berth owners, while a notice on the office door directed all inquiries to Somerset Council’s emergency hotline.
One boat-owner told the Free Press: “It is like a ‘Marie Celeste’. We feel very sorry for the marina manager who has tried his best for a long time but nobody is permanently on hand, nothing works, and if you want anything doing you have to do it yourself.”
The situation was confirmed by a ‘Notice to Mariners’ which warned: “Boaters should be aware that there will be no traffic control communication via VHF channel 80, berthing or other services while the office is closed.
“Boaters are advised to use extreme caution while entering or exiting the marina as the traffic control lights remain red on both sides.”
Marina manager Matt Driscoll, who makes regular visits to check the safety of boats, said the office had been closed primarily on health and safety grounds.
Mr Driscoll said:“We have no telephones or internet access.
"The other two members of staff are actively seeking other jobs because no wages have been paid since the end of October and no pension contributions have been paid by the company since August, 2021, although they would like to stay if things could be sorted out.”
The Free Press was told this week that other services had now been cut off at the marina and equipment, including fittings in customer toilets, had been dismantled.
Watchet is the only one of five marinas operated by the Cardiff-based Marine and Property Group which is not in administration.
The company’s sole director, Christopher Odling-Smee, has been in negotiation with Somerset Council for the past year to transfer the Watchet Marina lease from the previous operator, Tim Taylor.
Mr Driscoll said many of the current problems stemmed from the fact that the gate, which controlled the marina’s retained water had been broken for nearly a year, and there had also been no dredging during that time.
He said: “We need initial capital of at least £500,000 to get the place up and running.
“That would take care of everything.
“I have been told that the finances should be sorted out by the end of this month and I am hopeful that, one way or another, things will be resolved in the near future.
“At the moment, things are very frustrating.”