A COMPANY'S controversial use of space on Paignton harbour side as part of its crab shelling operation has been defended by Torbay's deputy mayor.
Torbay Harbours' committee has been recommended to rescind the licence for a 40ft container next to the Blue Sea Food factory at Paignton harbour.
But ahead of their meeting last night, deputy mayor Cllr David Thomas said he believed the company should be given until the end of December to move the unit to their out of town factory which is being refurbished after a fire.
Cllr Thomas talks to Alison Hernandez about the Blue Sea Food licence.
Cllr Thomas said: "I have heard councillors say they believe the company doesn't want to spend any money on the factory. But if you see the state-of-the-art equipment they have already bought each piece costs a serious amount of money.
"They are also finding new markets, like the Far East and China and shipping out crab by the container. There is massive demand out there for quality product and Brixham seafood is seen as a quality product. There are fantastic job opportunities.
"The container is effectively part of the processing unit. Without that they cannot effectively process the crab which has stringent health and safety requirements. I believe they need around £1.4million before the factory is fully fit and ready.
"They have tried everything and anything to get that money. The plan is to work through another year in that location to try to make enough to move that process out. There have been complaints from harbour users. But if you get rid of the industry you would have to ask the leisure users to pay more."
A report to the harbour committee recommended the lease for the land in front of units 15 to 18 is not renewed. The company had a lease since 2010 for a 40ft container and blast freezer. The blast freezer has now been removed.
The company has been using the equipment there since it took over the crab processing plant on the harbour side in 2010 after its factory at Torbay Business Park in Long Road, Paignton, was in a major fire in 2008.
Though planners agreed in October to defer enforcement notice requiring removal of the units until December 2013, members of the harbour committee have been told they have to consider the matter as landlords.
Members have been told the 'safe management of the harbour estate and the overall business of the harbour authority now need urgent consideration'.
The leases have been short term because the Harbour Master has concerns about the unit becoming a permanent fixture, says the report.
One option is for the company to be allowed to keep its container until the end of December but the report warns there are concerns about the impact on another summer season with traffic disruption caused by heavy vehicles and forklift truck activity in a relatively small and restricted area, smell and waste contamination and the risk to public safety and the impact on leisure users.
The report concludes: "It is understood there might be an impact on jobs at the Blue Sea Food Company if the container is removed. The decision to issue a deferred enforcement notice may well have been taken to safeguard any jobs which were allegedly under threat.
"Members are reminded the company will still have a factory at Paignton harbour and premises elsewhere in Paignton."