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Press Release 22/03/2016
Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

CALL FOR RESIGNATION OF CLLR NIGEL ASHTON AS DIRECTOR OF PORT MARINE MANAGEMENT LTD

Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve (FoPWNR) have called for an internal and external inquiry into the actions of Cllr Nigel Ashton. The assessment should determine if he should remain involved in Port Marine Management Limited. In a letter addressed to PMML, the group highlight actions by Cllr Ashton which seem to be abuse of power and position. FoPWNR Spokesperson Jeremy Ludlow says: “His immediate disqualification as chairman should be considered.”

Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve (PWNR) is a nationally important site that was established to offset major development in Portishead, North Somerset. The reserve used a pioneering solution of fees levied on the new properties to pay an annual levy (it was £54 for 2015), which covers the maintenance of the reserve; this commitment, in perpetuity, is written into the deeds of these properties. Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT) was approved by all parties, including North Somerset Council, to manage the reserve, and it was originally agreed that AWT would take over ownership of this land once the development was complete and reserve infrastructure fully in place. At that point, the direct interests of both Council and Developer in the reserve site would cease. The company set to collect and administer the fees was Port Marine Management Ltd (PMML).

On the 10th April 2015, Nigel Ashton – leader of North Somerset Council and Chairman of PMML – sent out a letter to levy-paying residents, proposing a complete and fundamental change to this plan: the abolition of the levy funding mechanism, and transfer of full control of the reserve to North Somerset Council. The contents of this letter were apparently not agreed by the rest of the PMML board, and were a total contradiction and breach of statements of intent made at the last company AGM (18th September 2014).

We believe the letter has no legal validity, since it had not been approved by the other directors of Port Marine Management Limited and that Cllr Ashton’s actions make him unfit to continue in his role as chairman of Port Marine Management Limited:

• Conflict of interest
• Breach of trust
• Failure to gain approval from other directors of Port Marine Management Limited
• Failure to convene an extraordinary general meeting, or indeed any general meeting, despite repeated requests by Chris Giles and Arthur Terry, the other two directors of the company
• Failure to account for his actions and decision making to levy payers

We believe that Ashton’s actions not only conflict with the rules set out by Companies House, but that he is also at odds with the codes of conduct set out for Councillors.

Thus we feel the arrangement suggested by Cllr Ashton in his letter of 10th April 2015 is voidable as per the Companies Act 2006 (Part 10, Chapter 4, Provision 195), and we suggest that the remaining directors of Port Marine Management Limited meet to discuss an agreeable way forward.

Supporting documents including minutes and the details of our formal complaints to Port Marine Management and North Somerset Council about Cllr Ashton’s actions are available on request. Please use the contact details below.

Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve
22/03/2016

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About Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve

FoPWNR is made up levy paying residents and North Somerset Council tax payers concerned over the handling of matters relating to the future of the Reserve. We can be found at:
http://www.friendsofpwnr.com/

https://www.facebook.com/savePWNR/

https://twitter.com/friendsofpwnr

friendspwnr@gmail.com

For more information, please feel free to contact us via any of the above