Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Paul Joy in the East Hastings Sea Angling Association. Photo:Chandra Masoliver

Paul Joy in the East Hastings Sea Angling Association. Photo:Chandra Masoliver

Hastings Harbour Proposal: a fisherman’s views

HOT’s Chandra Masoliver interviews Paul Joy, fisherman, chairman of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society (HFPS) and co-chairman of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA) about the proposed harbour development at Rock A Nore.

CM: Would you tell me about yourself, your family, and your position in the fishing community?

PJ: I am chairman of the HFPS, which preserves the Hastings fishing community’s medieval right to carry on using the beach, known as the Stade, for ever, free of charge. And I am co-chairman of NUTFA, a national organisation that defends the rights of under ten meter fishing boats. Their future is endangered by the unfair allocation of the fishing quota.

My family has a long history of fishing here – we were here in the 1000s, before the Norman Conquest: that’s why I am blond and blue eyed – well, I was blond! We’ve been landing off the open beach for generations.

My father wouldn’t allow me to fish; he wanted me to have a college education. I got back to fishing in a roundabout way: I studied horticulture at Hastings College, and I worked for Hastings Borough Council in Parks and Gardens. After that I went into landscape and building with a man who eventually bought my father out; then I bought the man out. By 1971 I was back fishing again! It was a good living then, on par with a bricklayer; there were fish in abundance, and no quota or discard laws then.

Paul Joy’s boat, the Kaya, a Turkish name meaning Rock. Photo: Chandra Masoliver

Paul Joy’s boat, the Kaya, a Turkish name meaning Rock. Photo: Chandra Masoliver

CM: What’s your view of the proposal to build 1,300 houses?

PJ: At the moment, a little sceptical as to the location. Housing would be a big problem: an average family comprises 2.5 per household and houses need an infrastructure – water, sewage, electricity and parking. Just think what that would mean with 1,300 houses! Just think of supplying water and electricity for them! There would be amazing disruption! Think of the number of tons of concrete and material that would be needed to facilitate the project. There would be big access problems. It’s bad enough on Rock a Nore Road even now. The proposal is just not amenable to this area.

Also, we’ve had massive cliff falls and erosion, so there’s the safety aspect. A couple of years ago, the residue from the fall went out a great distance into the sea, and that would have encapsulated the planned development.

Access from the sea, which would be needed to facilitate the development, is also a problem. The passage for access into the marina is right across the fishermen’s Stade, and fishing vessels come off in reverse. That’s not a problem now, but with the proposed six hundred berths, there could be the movement of several hundreds of vessels. There would be a safety problem, I don’t see how it could work as proposed.

 CM: What do you think of the envisaged Marina part of the Scheme?

PJ: For the fishermen to use? They would have to pay for their berths, and here we get into the problem of politics. Because of the quota imposed on us, it’s hard for fishermen to make a living. There’s some income from the car park on the Blue Stade, we work that with the Borough Council. The fishermen’s beach is governed by the fishermen and the Fishermen’s Protection Society. With the proposed marina, we would lose control; big boats would be detrimental to fishing on our local grounds. Our beach is a working beach, not a tourist beach; they wanted the Jerwood where it is because of the view they have of us.

It’s not the first scheme of this sort; lots of such plans have mysteriously popped up in the past. It might be ‘good for Hastings’, but they need to think carefully about why our Old Town works. This could destroy our infrastructure. We work because we’re at the end – there’s just the sea and the cliffs beyond; we’d no longer be an isolated venue. To try to build another community on the east side of a community that already works just doesn’t sound feasible.

CM: You mention the Jerwood. Has it come up with what was promised?

PJ: I’m pragmatic and a realist. What we ended up with was better than other proposals, like having a housing development. And we gained some benefits, we got the Fish Market improved.

CM: I’ve heard that longshore drift could be affected by building out into the sea.

PJ: There’s the longshore drift wherever the plan is put, I can’t see any difference. The predominant wind is from West to Southwest. The tidal drift is from the Southwest to the Northeast, so the wind takes the shingle under the cliff. Every year many tons of shingle shift from Rye Harbour to Pett Level. The Hastings Pier is on stilts, so the shingle can’t build up. But here, with the harbour arm, in forty years the shingle has built fifty yards on the beach, so what would the effect of a new harbour be? It would be solid. Or are the arms on stilts?

CM: Do you think there are already an adequate number of Marinas on the south coast?

PJ: Yes, there are an adequate number of Marinas, so I question the wisdom of another. There’s Brighton, Eastbourne, Rye and Newhaven. These offer safe haven, but they haven’t created a community. There are just berths, and often the owners aren’t there. Hastings Old Town as it is now has ambience, that’s why it’s visited.

Foreshore Trust land map showing the location of the development,

Foreshore Trust land map showing the location of the development,

The draft plan for the harbour development

The draft plan for the harbour development

CM: Do you think a feasibility study would be useful?

PJ: It’s a worry; the whole project is more about money. Someone is interested in money for the feasibility study – people will make a lot of money on a scheme even if it has no way forward. Maybe I’m cynical, but there could be a lot of money to be made from what is an unviable plan that has too many negatives. Who will make the money – that’s what interests me. The council? They may be short of money, but is it a wise move? Will it come from ratepayer’s money? Or from the Foreshore Trust?

The council must look seriously at this. I’ve heard talk about a road through the cliffs, but there’s the Country Park above; and what about the ‘green’ aspect? The cliffs are made of sand rock, which is porous; there are cliff falls now… there really are too many hurdles to the scheme in this designated area.

CM: Who is doing the feasibility scheme? It has been known that a firm that proposes to do the work may choose the assessors!

PJ: The question is who are the beneficiaries? Any association between the developers and the assessors must be brought out into the open now. There’s a block of money in the feasibility study, not necessarily in the future development – that may be pie in the sky! It’s a good way for companies who deal in feasibility to make money. Transparency is needed, like if the Council has put any money in or gets any money out of it.

CM: I understand a fair amount of the proposed harbour scheme would be on Foreshore Trust land. Is there any danger of compulsory purchase?

PJ: No. We are governed by the 1947 Deed of Compromise, which gives the fishermen irrevocable licence on the Blue Stade.

 CM: Irrevocable is a good strong word! Could you explain about the Stade?

PJ: ‘Stade’ is an Anglo-Saxon word for ‘a landing place’.

The different Stades

Map showing the different Stades

The Green Stade is from the east end of the boating lake to Pelham Place. The Council bought the foreshore from the Crown in the fifties, but we have boating rights and lesser rights.

East of the boating lake to the Rock-a-Nore East Groyne is divided roughly by the miniature railway line.

The Pink Stade, to the north, belongs to the council, though we have certain rights.

We have irrevocable licence on the Blue Stade, so we have all of the beach south of the railway. A barrister confirmed that we fishermen have ‘irrevocable rights’ from the old boating lake to the east end of Rock A Nore.

CM: Am I right that before the 1947 Deed of Compromise, the Council tried to bypass the fishermen’s rights in order to turn the Stade into a tourist area? At that time, when many of them were just back from the war, the fishermen wanted to be free of harassment so as to rebuild their industry?

PJ: Even before that, in 1936, the Council wanted to remove the fishing fleet and reallocate it to Rye, so as to use the land for development. Major Eaves worked on behalf of the fishermen to issue a Statement of Claim for their inherited rights. At that time there was no Blue Stade, but it was a large bit of the foreshore the Council wanted.

Actually, the fishing corporation (which I would define as meaning ‘a body of men’) had occupied this land before the advent of the Council. Legally, for land disputes, you need only go back twelve years, but this is historic. The fishermen have landed boats on the foreshore for centuries. Eventually, both parties settled for the Deed of Compromise instead of going to court.

CM: Is there a difference between ownership and right of use on the Stade?

PJ: Queen Elizabeth I’s Charter bestowed corporation status on Hastings and gifted its stone beach to the town. In 1893, the Crown sold the foreshore between Rock A Nore and Grosvenor Gardens to Hastings Corporation for £400: it was to be for the ‘common use, benefit and enjoyment of her Majesty’s subjects and the public generally for ever’. Now, yes, the Borough owns the ground. Since 1925 the Crown Estates have been selling further areas to Hastings Council, and then to Hastings Borough Council, but that is no impediment to the 1947 Deed of Compromise, that gives us our irrevocable rights.

CM: Is there a difference between the Foreshore Trust and the Deed of Compromise?

PJ: Yes, they are totally different entities. The Deed of Compromise was formed in 1947 in agreement with the Fishermen’s Protection Society, which represents the fishermen. The Foreshore Trust was set up as a Charity for the well-being of the town.

CM: I have read that there has been a long history of the Council abusing the Foreshore Trust, that the Council can wear two hats: they govern the Council and the Foreshore Trust – and they were found to be acting unlawfully by using income from the Charity’s land for Council funds. Also, they were not keeping Charities Statement of Recommended Practice compliant accounts. I understand that as a result, in 2008, they were to pay the Foreshore Trust £1.3 million – or some foreshore land in lieu. Then because of this, the Deed of Compromise was made more stringent.

Could you describe your working relationship with the Council?

PJ: We’ve had a good working relationship with the Council for the past twenty years. Since I have been chairman of the FPS, I have worked to get to where the Council know our fishing industry is an asset to the town. We are an environmentally friendly fishery – and we both work for the economic and social welfare of the town. The agreement, set up in 1947, where both parties can call meetings, is an exercise for the understanding of both parties’ needs. It’s important that we understand each other’s points of view, because fishing politics and local politics can be a different kettle of fish!

CM: Were you consulted about the Marina?

PJ: We were not consulted on the Marina, but we wouldn’t comment on a project before seeing a map. Now, having seen it, the project is unfeasible as it is, for many reasons and in many aspects. There are pitfalls and advantages. I understand the need to create housing. I also understand the loss of the Country Park is detrimental. There are so many questions we haven’t got answers to yet.

CM: How many fishermen are represented on the Foreshore Trust board?

PJ: The Foreshore Trust board doesn’t have any fishermen on it.

CM: Oh! Thank you Paul, for this interview, and for representing our fishermen who guard our shore!

Paul Joy with his dog Serefe, Turkish for 'Cheers!’ Photo: Chandra Masoliver

Paul Joy with his dog Serefe, Turkish for ‘Cheers!’ Photo: Chandra Masoliver

Further information

At present the Foreshore Trust Cabinet is composed of three Labour Councillors: Chair Sue Beaney-Edwards, and Councillors Andy Batsford and Dawn Poole.

The Protector, who has to be an accountant, is Chris May. He does not make decisions; he is there as an advisor, to say if something is not done correctly. He is to be a watchdog – and a whistle blower if necessary.

I understand there should also be a Monitor, to provide a further check, but I cannot find one listed at the moment.

People, including fishermen, have representatives on the Coastal Users Group, and the Committee consults with them on matters affecting the foreshore.

Then there is the Grant Advisory Panel regarding money allocated to charities.

The next meeting, which is open to the public, is on 11 December at 6.00pm, at Muriel Matters House (formerly called Aquila House).

In her next interview Chandra Masoliver interviews some local people about their reactions to the proposed Harbour Scheme.


Posted 16:59 Monday, Oct 16, 2017 In: Home Ground


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Ronald Blay

    Good day to Hastings fishermen.

    I had hoped to contact Paul Joy I don’t know him but have always watched his fight for the local fishermen. My name is Ronald Blay had fishing boats out of Ramsgate for a few years a long time back before it was ruined by all the rules and regulations I was a lifeboatman 35 years and finished up as dredger master 30 years so I do have the experience of the damage that can be done when they come up with these money making schemes. Many of you will know that they built a ferry terminal alongside our lovely Royal harbour many years ago, ever since the terminal has been a silting mud hole in places there is five metres of mud, plus the natural longshore movement of sand has completely changed during periods of strong NE and Easterly winds sand from our beach is driven west into the terminal but never goes back as the as the new terminal shelters it from Southerly gales that used to take it back, so it is dredged away at our expense £100 thousand pounds a year the last 7 years. In my opinion what they plan will have a silting problem the mud in suspension comes in on the flood then in the still water drops to the bottom, plus the breakwater they want to build could alter the tidal force as the sea is pushed outwards.

    Hope I haven’t rambled on too much but I do not want to see the fisherman’s beach ruined as our harbour at Ramsgate has, good luck in your fight , Ronald Blay.

    Comment by Ronald Blay — Monday, Apr 9, 2018 @ 10:04

  2. Si Oliver

    OK First of all I am an outsider but frequent visitor to Hastings (from Lewes and previously Brighton).
    The reasons I think this is a bad idea for Hastings are mostly from the experience of Brighton Marina:
    1. Only effective way into Brighton Marina is by car which leads to pollution. A large part of Marina is in fact car parks.
    2. The businesses in Brighton Marina are all chains which you can go to anywhere in the country
    3. A lot of the housing in Brighton Marina seems to be empty and has been purchased for investment purposes. That for rent is highish prices.
    4. Most of the boats in Brighton Marina never actually go anywhere.
    6. The only successful businesses as far as I can see are the cinema and supermarket, both of which had a detrimental effect on similar businesses within the town.
    Please stand up against it. If you are in doubt come and look at Brighton Marina.

    Comment by Si Oliver — Monday, Nov 13, 2017 @ 17:00

  3. Chandra Masoliver

    Thanks for your comment Tania, it’s a pleasure and a surprise to hear fom a councillor, and I respect what you, in particular, do for the town.

    I am not clear what you mean by “we did not approve the scheme questions members asked could not be answered so most of us were left dubious of the viability of the scheme.”
    1) You, HBC, did approve the feasibility’s go ahead.
    2) You approved it without consulting your electorate, the people of this town.

    When you say “We were asked if we were happy for the consultation to proceed,if we had said no, they could carry out the feasibility”.”
    1) Are you saying they could have gone ahead with it anyway?
    2) Are you saying they would have gone ahead with it anyway?
    3) If so, why, in the Cabinet meeting, did you, HBC, need to unanimously approve a scheme about which you go on to say “I am not sure local people will benefit at all. I watch with interest as I am not sure this is feasible in the old town”.

    You say funding for the feasibility scheme would, if you “could remember rightly, come from national public funds of which we have no control of locally.” Well, as I wrote in my first Harbour article (Hastings Online Times ‘Hastings Harbour – Surprise Proposal’ September 26th 2017) it comes from the Treasury, that is, taxpayers money, and in times of imposed austerity, with the NHS, students fees etc etc being in dire straits, that seems wrong to me.

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Saturday, Oct 28, 2017 @ 20:30

  4. Michael Madden

    Interesting to hear that a feasability study will come from national public funds. Even if there is no control over this locally, surely there must be some control over whether there is one or not. Mr Chowney seemed pretty keen on having one in September.

    This is what he said on September 1st to a Hastings Observer correspondent (and I quote):”Potentially this cold be something really big for Hastings and enormously beneficial for the local economy” and “It will benefit our fishing industry.”

    “The scheme is at a very early stage, but it has potentially very significant benefits for the town, including a new marina providing moorings, boat storage facilities and support services; around 1,000 to 1,300 new homes; a protected launching and landing site for our fishing fleet; and transport improvements to the area. “The proposal could have a substantial and lasting direct benefit to Hastings, with its construction alone worth around £500m. The spending power of the residents of the new homes is expected to be around £26m per annum, with significant additional spending from the many thousands of new visitors the development could attract. “But there are still a lot of questions to be answered, before I’d be comfortable with the scheme. I would want to see at least 25 per cent of the new homes as social housing, access for vehicles would need to be achieved without damaging the Stade and its character, and car parking lost at Rock-a-Nore would need to be replaced, ideally with underground car parks……. “But these are very early days, and we will debate the principle of the work at our cabinet meeting on September 11.” He added: “The ‘point of no return’ is a long way away, but the potential benefits for Hastings are significant, so we owe it to our community to take the scheme seriously to see if it can benefit the town and its residents.”

    Read more at:

    Comment by Michael Madden — Monday, Oct 23, 2017 @ 14:37

  5. Ms.Doubtfire

    To those who are suggesting it would be a good idea to have this Marina built on the old St. Leonards swimming pool site – it is very clear you have not read your ‘history’ books.
    As Pam Brown states in her comment there was indeed a feasibility study on this site (not so long ago either) and it became very clear there was no ‘feasible’ way of building any Marina or anything else for that matter on this site. The land has lain vacant for many decades and there is good reason for this. What lies beneath this site poses a serious obstruction to any development and what lies across this site into the sea is another obstruction: it is called ‘tides’.
    In reality there is no suitable site in Hastings or St. Leonards for such a huge Marina and it would well behove Cllr. Chowney and his colleagues to ditch this pie in the sky nonsense before we waste a whole heap of public money on useless and very costly consultations.
    We do need housing – we do not need a Marina.
    Which beggars the question – what has happened to Cllr. Chowneys gripe about the 2000 development sites in this town which he says remain undeveloped ecause developers just wait until the value of the land edges up…this was a statement made in his General Election Manifesto of 2017.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Saturday, Oct 21, 2017 @ 11:09

  6. Pam Brown

    What an excellent and helpful article. I have always had the greatest respect for Paul Joy and colleague fishermen. They were not being treated well by HBC during a period in the 1970s, and I was determined to see that meetings were ‘meaningful’ and not just ‘going through the motions’. Since then, there is a good relationship between the fishermen and HBC, although Jerwood strained things a lot !
    The point about a feasibility study is very relevant- we will all pay
    a high cost when common sense should prevail.
    To James Risbridger, I say- we had a feasibility study for the proposed Marina at W. St Leonards at very high cost, because people believed it was possible. It took skilled submissions re tides etc to prove it was a non starter. In this case, and on the face of it, a feasibility study should not be required due to the unrealistic nature of what is being proposed.

    Comment by Pam Brown — Friday, Oct 20, 2017 @ 17:52

  7. Cyril Gould

    What a fascinating and well balanced article. Thank you, Paul Joy, and thank you Chandra Masoliver! This is clearly a proposed project that needs very careful consideration. There seems to be a potential here for destroying traditions that affect hundreds of fishing families, and of the unique ambience of the Stade itself. How strange it is that the fishermen were not consulted before these plans were announced. A transformed shoreline accommodating weekenders from outside the area (just look at Newhaven’s attempt to become like Cannes!)looks like a distinct possibility to me.

    Comment by Cyril Gould — Friday, Oct 20, 2017 @ 16:48

  8. cllr Tania Charman

    The localcouncil will not be paying a thing towards this and in actual fact we stipulated that if it starts to use officers time we will charge them for our time.
    We did not approve the scheme questions members asked could not be answered so most of us where left dubious of the viability of the scheme.

    We where asked if we where happy for the consultants to proceed, if we had said no, they could carry out the feasibility.
    If I recall rightly I do believe the feasibility would come from national public funds of which we have no control of locally. The development will be private funding!

    Neither the borough or the Foreshore have any funds available, this would be huge amounts of money, I think I heard it would be hundreds of millions.

    I m not sure local people will benefit at all, I watch with interest as I am not sure this is feasible in the old town……………….

    Comment by cllr Tania Charman — Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 @ 22:50

  9. Eileen swift

    I’d just like to add my agreement to the reader comments on the excellent interview with Paul Joy. I have complete admiration for our wonderful fishermen and we should give them our total support.

    Indeed questions need to be asked about how this study has been financed – who has been paid to do it? But also questions asked about why the fishermen were not consulted prior to the proposals being drawn up.

    I also agree with the comments about the detrimental effect on the old town and the country park of housing developments east of Rock-a-Nore.
    As other readers have commented, there are sites available that would benefit from development so why waste money on a proposal to do a development that will be fraught with obstacles as well as being unwanted by local people? There are some serious questions that need to be answered.

    Comment by Eileen swift — Thursday, Oct 19, 2017 @ 20:04

  10. James Risbridger

    Any proposal for a Marina should be at the other end of the prom in front of the old Bathing Pool site. If there is real money for a serious study don’t waste it in the Old Town.

    Comment by James Risbridger — Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 @ 20:15

  11. Michael Madden

    Excellent interview and clearly explained info from Paul Joy, who has educated us all by giving so much detailed background information and such a measured opinion – I hope the council will take it into account.

    As Mr Joy suggests, the proper time for public consultations should be before a feasability study is even contemplated, because such studies are very expensive and tend to become economies in themselves. Someone will make a lot of money out of it (as he says) as they have done on other such studies in the past.

    Perhaps someone who knows, either from the council or not, would like to let readers know whether, if there is a feasbility study, the money will be sourced from the ratepayer or not?

    Comment by Michael Madden — Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 @ 17:45

  12. pauline

    this should be built where the old bathing pool was this would give the area a good boost

    Comment by pauline — Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 @ 13:28

  13. Ken Edwards

    The most cogent analysis of this speculative proposal that I’ve read so far.

    Comment by Ken Edwards — Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 @ 12:43

  14. chris hurrell

    Another interesting and well written interview on the Marina. Congratulations and thanks due to Chandra Masoliver and the Hottie.
    These are likely to prove a vital resource for the public debate and consultations promised by HBC. I look forward to further interviews on this subject.

    Comment by chris hurrell — Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 @ 11:57

  15. Chandra Masoliver

    Thanks Ms. Doubtfire, I’ll keep on with the interviews!

    Comment by Chandra Masoliver — Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017 @ 16:06

  16. Ms.Doubtfire

    Three cheers for Paul Joy! And three cheers also for the 1947 Deed of Compromise – without this Deed who knows what would have happened to our fishing fleet by now!
    Paul Joy’s observations are the most sensible and balanced observations on the Marina proposals so far. He is so correct in his comments about the attraction of feasibility studies – plenty of money to be made here!

    Chandra Masoliver also deserves praise for her balanced and well conducted interviews on the Marina proposals. We have learned so much from her articles.

    Comment by Ms.Doubtfire — Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017 @ 11:35

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