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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 17:50 GMT
Choppy seas for waterfront vision
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Stranraer is a town with major plans for its future.

With some of its ferry employers having departed or in the process of leaving it has been left with little choice but to look at new options.

A marina development, waterfront regeneration and a casino licence are all part of the ambitious plans.

Stranraer view
The costs of marina plans have risen by 130,000

One of the first significant steps towards the new vision for the town is the construction of a breakwater next to the town's west pier.

It is part of a wider 1.3m project to develop a marina in the harbour.

That, in turn, is seen as vital to the overall improvement of the waterfront area.

However, work in the area cannot start until permission is granted from ferry company Sea Containers.

It switched its operations from Stranraer to Troon in Ayrshire seven years ago but still holds a seabed lease.

If I need to go and knock on somebody's door down there and try to move things on then I am quite prepared to do that
Russell Brown MP

The council - along with Scottish Enterprise - is funding the project but says despite repeated assurances from the company, there has been no progress.

The delay is being blamed for already pushing up the project costs by 130,000.

Councillors have agreed to raise the budget for the marina project by that figure but the delay has led to concern from Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown.

'Positive response'

"This is an issue that came past me at least 12 months ago," he said.

"I believed at that time I had a fairly positive response from Sea Containers and it looked as if it was all moving forwards.

"It would appear that this has lain around for a period of time and time is money with these things."

He said he was not interested in who was to blame for the delay but simply in seeing things move forward.

Stranraer boats
It is hoped to turn the town into a major leisure destination

"It needs to be finalised once and for all and not left lying on somebody's desk once again to potentially cost more money at a later stage," he said.

"I'm down here in Westminster five minutes away from Sea Containers' office along the river.

"If I need to go and knock on somebody's door down there and try to move things on then I am quite prepared to do that."

The situation has been complicated by the fact that Sea Containers Services Ltd - the legal tenant - filed for Chapter 11 protection under US bankruptcy law last year.

Arrears payments

The company said that meant it had not been allowed by the US courts to make arrears payments required under the terms of its lease.

It also said that it was legally unable to pay towards works to remove concrete piles from the harbour as requested by the Crown Estates.

"We are well aware of the issues relating to the regeneration of Stranraer's waterfront and are enthusiastic about the opportunities it would bring to the area and the local community," said a Sea Containers spokesperson.

She added that the company had written to Mr Brown to say it was keen "in any way possible" to reach a "satisfactory conclusion for the people of Stranraer".


SEE ALSO
Ferry town set for casino licence
30 Jan 07 |  South of Scotland
Pension threat to Sea Containers
06 Nov 06 |  Business
GNER owner makes Chapter 11 move
16 Oct 06 |  Business
Town's future waits on Lady Luck
21 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland
Port's casino case gathers pace
09 Aug 06 |  South of Scotland
Town's casino campaign wins boost
26 Jul 06 |  South of Scotland
Stranraer scheme strikes it lucky
24 May 06 |  South of Scotland
Ferry link secures 70m boost
21 Feb 03 |  Scotland

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