GRAVE concerns remain about the Crown Estate “preferred bidder” process following a meeting with Borough of Poole.

There was an outcry in Poole after the body which owns the seabed, announced MDL as its preferred bidder to build a marina off Poole Quay, over a tender put in by Poole Harbour Commissioners.

Concerns were raised about consultation and the council called for a meeting with the Crown Estate, which was arranged by Poole MP Robert Syms.

Council leader, Cllr Elaine Atkinson said: “My personal view is that it isn’t our job to lobby for one scheme or another because we haven’t seen the bids.”

However she said she had “grave concerns about the way they set the criteria” for deciding on the tenders. “ I personally don’t feel they have taken into consideration the uniqueness of Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world. It has all kinds of SSSIs, European designations, protected areas of seabed and I don’t believe the criteria recognised that.”

Of the 400 points allotted to the scheme, a weighting of only 10 went to the approach to sustainability and environmental management, she said.

She raised concerns about damage to the reputation of Poole and said: “They have a responsibility to make sure that any bid is deliverable.”

A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “We welcomed the opportunity to outline in person the approach we have taken to running a competitive evaluation process, seeking to meet our mandate under The Crown Estate Act to select the best viable, commercial proposition, subject to planning, for the use of our seabed at Poole Harbour in response to the expressions of interest we received.”

The spokesman said they had released details of the criteria used to analyse bids which included access, the potential for public and community facilities, financial value and environmental management and sustainability.