Fears over future of Coble Margaret

FEARS have been raised about the future of the coble Margaret, which was launched six years ago as part of a project to celebrate Filey's fishing heritage, promote tourism and educate and train young people.

More than 60,000 of public money was spent restoring the boat, which has been left languishing on Coble Landing for more than a year. Despite several attempts to re-launch it, the Coble Preservation Society, a registered charity, no longer exists and former directors are reluctant to accept responsibility.

Half the boat was re-painted earlier this year and an old poster sits in the cabin window next to an expired licence. Last year, a 2,000 winch was stolen.

Stan Dickinson, a former secretary of the society, said: “It’s a disgrace to see it rotting away after all the effort I put into it. I spent a lot of hours of my own time and money and they just left it to go to wrack and ruin.”

Retired fisherman Jim Haxby, who used to skipper the boat, said: “It’s a shame to see it laid there doing nothing. The thing that knocked it on the head was red tape. For example, when the harbourmaster came to a meeting about three years ago I was told I wouldn’t be able to take the boat because I didn’t have a first-class ticket, despite 30 years of experience.

“People tried to take it up and they were going to take children from different schools, but there’s been so many accidents with children on the water that teachers are reluctant to accept responsibility. It looked like a great venture, and it was a credit to Stan Dickinson who got the grants for us.”

Fisherman Foster Cammish said red tape was the problem, as well as “too many Indians and not enough chiefs”.

Others who have been involved in the project said people had failed to pull together and it had been difficult to pay the skippers and keep it running. A number of people were trained on the boat and then left for more regular employment.

Former society chairman Kath Wilkie, who has not been involved in the project for some years, said: “It’s Filey’s heritage. Cobles are Filey. There was a lot of work and training that went into it. Filey 4Wards paid for the insurance and the berth, otherwise she’d have had to be moved. It would be a shame for her just to disappear.”

Anyone interested in taking on the project can contact Mrs Wilkie at the Filey 4Wards office on (01723) 518029.

l What do you think? Email stephanie.pride@yrnltd.co.uk or write to the Mercury at the usual address