The Port and Haven of

A Trust Port  Managed  by the Sandwich Port and Haven Commissioners under Acts of Parliament


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Annual Report

Chairman’s Report for the year 2017

Dated 28th February 2018

Presented to the annual Haven Users Group (HUG) meeting on 8th March 2018.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC), some twelve years ago, were commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) to undertake a short study concerning the trust port Sector.  The focus being on operational efficiency, accountability to Stakeholders, notional Stakeholder dividends and the part Trust Ports play in local economies.  The selected ports were Dover, Tyne, Milford Haven, Shoreham, Poole and Blyth ports.  These ports being of a size quite out of our league.

However the principles still apply and it is nice to report that Sandwich Port and Haven (SP&H) continues to operate under these guidelines - and the spirit of the PwC advice to DfT document.  Whilst it may be straight forward defining who the Stakeholders are, for the selected ports mentioned above, for us it is a completely different scenario.  For us the highest level of Stakeholder has to be the afloat users of the Haven, along with the two marinas and the sailing club, followed by SP&H employees and so on down to the town, its residents and tourists / local economy.

Accordingly the SP&H has actually – and unusually – being paying a cash dividend out of the only asset we have, being return on investments from earlier good times when there was commercial traffic bringing in revenue.  This allowed a ‘dip into reserves’ dividend to Conservancy Fee paying Stakeholders of around 60% enabling a quite modest fee of £65.00 for the past year.  Fine so far but the Stakeholder dividend has to be managed to control erosion of that capital asset.  So future years will see progressive rises in the conservancy fees to address that erosion.  PwC recognise the need for fees to be at a realistic level   “…that reflects an appropriate target return on assets. Of course some users’ may not be willing to pay this level of charges but any loss of revenue if users switch to another port should be compensated by greater profitability from the business that remains.” (1)  

“[PwC] have adopted the term ‘stakeholder dividend’ (a term not so far used by trust ports) to describe the use of resources by trust ports in a non-profit maximising way for the benefit ofstakeholders. It represents the cost of actions that would not be taken by a plc port.”    In discussing this PwC recognise / alludes to,  the unseen dividend that is the unpaid time of (smaller ports) members of the Boards / Commissions provided voluntarily on behalf of the Stakeholders.(2)  

“A trust port can be compared to an heirloom. It is a

valuable asset presently safeguarded by the existing board.

They have a duty to hand it on in the same or better

condition to succeeding generations. Boards have an

obligation to transact port business in the interest of the

whole community of stakeholders openly, accountably and

with commercial prudence”

Modernising Trust Ports: A Guide to Good Governance

In summary then SP&H remains solvent as outlined above, assisted by limited costs savings elsewhere.  Liabilities include of course all of the buoys and river marks.  The Harbour Master has a schedule of work for the various buoys and marks.  Over time it is intended this will develop into a document to indicate the forward planned maintenance hot spots.

For many years SP&H has been operating without a shore side base from which to operate.  We used to have a base of sorts at the rear of what was Pfizer Social Club but that has changed hands and we have long been denied access.  We continue to look but for the moment, thanks to the Harbour Masters good will, we are able to store our various bits in his compound at Sandwich Marina.

And finally – much to our surprise – the new biomass energy plant is being powered by – well, biomass -  which is trees.  Their mode of transport from remote woodland to Sandwich being a very ungreen fleet of lorries.  Yet we have a perfectly sound wharf to where the trees could be delivered by sea.  Various meetings with contacts has failed to change this.  But we have tried!

Robert Holden

Chairman of the Commissioners

(1)  Page 15 - PwC final report May 2017

(2) Page 14 – the Stakeholder Dividend concept.


Chairman’s Report for the year 2016

Dated 10th February 2017

Presented to the annual Haven Users Group (HUG) meeting on 15th February 2017.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the river mouth channel movements continue.  Indeed the last 5 years movements have been exceptional.  And now we have what appears to be the beginnings of a major realignment.  It would appear that the changes are for the better in that the course of the river will likely be straighter.  The spring survey will reveal a hopefully better course.

The investment in new buoys in 2015, along with more in the latter part of 2016 (and not forgetting the ground tackle that goes with them) besides being very necessary has greatly improved the marking of the river across Pegwell Bay.   That of course does not absolve masters of vessels from understanding the natural scouring actions of a river, whereby buoys can quickly become out of place as the river moves around them.

Which brings us back to the matter of the ground tackle – being the long link heavy chain risers, necessarily large shackles and mooring weights.  An end of season maintenance check and replacement revealed those buoys surrounded by mud suffered little if any wear, whereas those in sand had suffered upwards of 80% loss of thickness in just 18 months!  So with river movement irretrievably burying ground tackle  -  and worn chain to replace -  this is going to be a continuing burdensome annual expense.

The Commissioners remain committed to having a safe river and a wildlife attractive environment.  To that end new notice boards have been placed at various locations advising the 8 knot speed limit and wash control zones.  The wash zones are through moorings whilst the 8 knot limit is the entire Port and Haven length of the river beginning at the Fairway Buoy out in Pegwell Bay. Of particular importance is that of an awareness of seals.   Not all of which might be quick enough to get out of the way of a speeding vessels propeller.

On the subject of safety The Commissioners at the December 2016 meeting appointed Tom Lash as Assistant Harbour Master.  It has become increasingly apparent that our Harbour Master Colin Carr does from time to time need extra support.  Tom’s duties will be sporadic but will carry the same authority as any Harbour Master.  Welcome to the team Tom.

Conservancy Fees.  These become due on 1st April each year.  Yet a significant number remain unpaid as we moved into 2017 – despite notices being placed upon those vessels.  This is very unfair on those who do pay, as well as having a detrimental impact on the revenue stream.  The Haven after all is managed by the Port and Haven Commissioners on users / stakeholders behalf.  

The Commissioners will be commencing a debt recovery programme straight after the Haven Users Group meeting on 15th February 2017.   Defaulters for the year commencing 1st April 2017, and subsequent years, will pay an additional management charge of £30.00!

Robert Holden

Chairman, Sandwich Port and Haven Commissioners.


The 2014/15 Report below was presented to the Stakeholders Meeting on Friday 17th July 2015.

The Sandwich Port and Haven Commission has been responsible for the maintenance and operation of the Port and Haven of Sandwich for a very long time. Our Act of Parliament dated 1847 sets out our responsibilities, duties and powers and this is still in force.

The predecessors of the current commission go back a very long time.  Indeed the Act consolidated and formalised their role. Sadly since 1847 we have seen a steady - apart from the war years 1914 - 1918 and 1939 – 1945 - reductions of commercial traffic until the present position where we have virtually none.

We have seen, since around 1950 a growth in leisure traffic associated with the river.  This is now serviced with a number of boat yards and sailing club activities that have grown steadily in the intervening years.

Recent changes in the river, particularly at the mouth, have meant that, from being an annual check on our buoys, landmarks and other means of marking the channel, we now have a major adjustment each spring to satisfy the Trinity House annual inspection.

The steady erosion and decline due to negligible commercial traffic is only partially offset by our recent policy of collecting annual Harbour Dues.

The presentation to be made at our Stakeholders meeting will clearly show how our work has grown without adequate income.

Thanks to the efforts of our Vice Chairman we now have a website setting out our history and our current activities and this has led us to the inaugural meeting of Stakeholders and indeed anyone interested in the operations within the Port and Haven Commissioners remit.

At the end of the meeting we hope to establish how stakeholders wish to be informed and how we can carry out a meaningful dialogue to establish what is needed for the future of this ancient port.


John Bragg


Annual Report