THE GMB union has called on the owner of Bembridge Harbour to open the harbour's finances to public scrutiny.

GMB delegates at the annual congress in Brighton made the call to hand over the books, but owner Malcolm Thorpe has said the harbour already complies with all laws and government requirements relating to disclosure of its financial affairs.

However, GMB Southern has said the impact on direct employment and the maintenance and growth of leisure activities mean urgent public scrutiny of the harbour’s long term viability is vital.

Last December, GMB Southern spoke at a public meeting at Bembridge Village Hall.

At last years conference, GMB also passed a motion calling on Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to enact the Bembridge Harbour Act 1963, which allows for the Secretary of State to call in the books of the harbour company and conduct an audit.

Mr Thorpe, of Bembridge Harbour Authority, said: "The Department of Transport has already made a response to the approach by the GMB when Baroness Sugg stated 'The Secretary of State for Transport has no plans to appoint any inspector to consider matters relating to Bembridge Harbour'."

Paul Maloney, GMB Regional Secretary said: "Bembridge Harbour owner Malcolm Thorpe has refused to publish the Harbour’s full accounts. He has also refused to meet GMB to discuss the situation which has been brought to our attention by our members who work and live in Bembridge.

"The whole way that Mr Thorpe's company structures are built around the statutory Harbour Company need to become more transparent to gain public confidence.

"It is clear that considerable questions surround the management and sustainability of Bembridge Harbour.

"Despite community attempts to bring a greater degree of public transparency to the financial management of the Harbour, the time has come for Mr Thorpe to show us the books.

"It is time for Mr Thorpe to meet with concerned residents and answer their questions."

Mr Thorpe said the harbour authority sees no reason to meet with the GMB.

Mr Thorpe said the information being requested included management accounts containing sensitive commercial and data confidential considerations.