In the last year a number of major proposals have been made around changes to our harbourside area.

Some, I believe, are good; others not so. Whatever residents feel about the new scheme on the North Quay site it will rid this town of an eye sore that costs us thousands of pounds a month to remain empty and dilapidated, and standing as a symbol of our town’s malaise.

The other major proposals have been around vehicular access to the harbour.

Many people who enjoy the idea of sitting alongside the harbour to eat, drink and take in the surroundings believe that the main opposition to pedestrianisation comes from people wanting either a free parking space to pop into town or to use it as rat run.

For me that’s not the reason I am against it.

I am against pedestrianisation because as I believe in a working harbour and listen to the views and experiences of many businesses and residents involved in that.

Weymouth Harbour’s character is based on its heritage as a working harbour, based mainly around fishing which is also financially viable. It’s what brings people to the harbour, locals, tourist and visitors and has done for years.

For various reasons (I won’t delve into that) commercial boats have for some years been leaving Weymouth for neighbouring ports. But recently, due to some changes in approach boats are returning.

One fear they all have in common though is losing viable access to their boats (businesses) allowing them their crew and their customers to load and unload heavy, and often bulky, equipment.

These boats attract visitors who spend millions in our town every year. It is estimated that commercial boats not only employ a local workforce, but bring in an estimated £5-7 million in downstream revenue for our local tourism and hospitality industries. So they are not just pretty boats to look at.

Of the many boat based commercial businesses in the harbour I don’t know one that is in favour of pedestrianisation.

Whilst some of the pubs and restaurants on the quay may benefit short term, in the long run even these would suffer if the harbour lost its character and trade from the tourism the commercial boats attract.

Last year despite concessions to boat owners many operators were encumbered by traffic restrictions and fuelling was a problem making an already hard year even worse.

A quay wall lined with people drinking (mostly buying from an off licence not the pubs) a harbour full of plastic cups/cans, boats vandalised and urinated on and berth access blocked by large groups of people is not what visiting customers want to be faced with.

Why would commercial boat operators remain in a port where the customers they attract in are put off their by experience of the harbour and operators feel second best to already successful larger businesses.

When the sun isn’t shining we must think whether our commercial boats will remain moored brimming with charm in the harbour when the tables and chairs are packed away.

To those who favour pedestrianisation please speak to those who live and work in the harbour fishing and diving industry.

The viability of one of Dorset’s few thriving working harbours is, I believe, a cornerstone of the town’s future success.

Pedestrianisation will end the charm of our harbour that makes it so attractive. Please feel to get in touch with me with your thoughts directly.