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Charter operator feeling squeezed

30 Apr 2019

Charter operator feeling squeezed Image

After 13 years, the Melbourne Show Boat, “Lady Cutler”, owner Jeff Gordon says he’s being forced out of Docklands’ waterways.

Mr Gordon has been given notice that his Central Pier berth is no longer available for any vessels because of “urgent remediation work” to the pier.

He’s been offered two alterative spots, but he says neither is suitable and he suspects the authorities have ulterior motives.

“It feels like the rug’s been pulled out from under us,” he said.

“If they don’t want us there, then that’s fine – compensate us out,” he said. “But don’t squeeze us out and kill us off by a thousand cuts.”

Mr Gordon said he had proposed an alternative suitable floating structure for the south basis of Victoria Harbour but had failed to secure a high-level meeting with Development Victoria and the City of Melbourne to discuss the proposal.

“And all this after we’ve just spent $500,000 on maintaining the vessel,” he said.

Mr Gordon said, if Central Pier needed remediation, then this should be done in stages to allow Lady Cutler to remain at the general location while it was being done.

“And, tell me, how is it that Atlantic Group is allowed to continue to operate if the pier is in serious need of remediation?” he said.

In reply to an April letter from the City of Melbourne’s waterways unit, Mr Gordon wrote: “With our knowledge of Central Pier for over a decade, it is surprising to me that this matter of maintenance now appears to have great urgency.”

“There has been no consultation or offer made to allow us to continue to operate at Central Pier whilst the remedial work is being carried out.”

“To offer alternative berthing at CH03 or VH02 is unacceptable for a number of reasons, of which you are well aware,” Mr Gordon wrote.

Mr Gordon said he felt he no other option than to engage lawyers to fight the eviction.

“After 13 years, they should have come up with a place for us, and they haven’t,” he told Docklands News.

He said he had moved Lady Cutler three times previously to allow maintenance work on the pier.

The City of Melbourne manages Central Pier berthing on behalf of its owner, Development Victoria.

A City of Melbourne spokesperson said: “The City of Melbourne has been notified by Development Victoria that urgent upgrades are needed to maintain the structural integrity of Central Pier.  The wharf structure is owned and maintained by Development Victoria with the City of Melbourne only having responsibility for issuing licences over the adjacent water.”

“All vessels that have been impacted by changed berthing arrangements have been contacted by the City of Melbourne. Five other vessels have already been successfully relocated.”

“The City of Melbourne’s waterways team has been working with the owner of the Lady Cutler and has identified two alternate options. The waterways team will continue to work with the Lady Cutler to be relocated within Victoria Harbour.”

“The City of Melbourne does not manage the safety of the pier and is not privy to the arrangements that that the landlord Development Victoria has with other tenants.”

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