Langstone Harbour does not deserve the axe – yet

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On the odd occasion in recent weeks when we have been treated to a sparkling winter’s morning, the sunrises over Langstone Harbour have been special.

They remind those of us who live in the city or surrounding towns how lucky we are to have such a magnificent natural asset on our doorstep.

When cattle graze the marshland in the harbour’s northern reaches, the landscape – with not much stretching of the imagination – has a touch of the Camargue in southern France about it.

The inlet, bordering Portsmouth and Chichester harbours, offers respite for the soul and a wonderful green and marine lung between Portsmouth and Havant.

It is a tranquil and beautiful place, and a vital part of an extensive biological system.

The harbour is home for charter fishing boats and commercial fishermen, and hosts two commercial aggregate wharves. Many recreational activities including yachting, canoeing and windsurfing are also well established in its sheltered waters.

Langstone Harbour is recognised internationally for its importance for nature conservation, and is a haven for aquatic wildlife and myriad bird species.

So, of course, such an environment must be protected and the Langstone Harbour Board has done a pretty good job doing just that.

However, we see little wrong with Gerald Vernon-Jackson’s plan to make the body self-sufficient. The leader of Portsmouth City Council wants to cut in half the annual subsidy from taxpayers to the board in the next financial year.

At a time when so many public bodies, and some would argue, more crucial ones, are suffering swingeing cuts, Langstone Harbour Board would not feature too highly on most people’s awareness radar.

Yes, the harbour deserves protection but not to the detriment of, say, schools, social services or dustbin collection in Portsmouth.

But perhaps slicing that funding by 50 per cent in one fell swoop is a little too much. Why not postpone the axe for another 12 months?