BEMBRIDGE houseboat owners have criticised 'heavy handed' officers they say raided the harbour last week to quiz residents about their licences.

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) said officers were carrying out pre-investigation enquiries relating to marine licensing requirements for houseboats.

Robert Lowe, who lives on a houseboat with his wife, Elaine, described the visit as a raid, but the MMO has denied its officers were heavy handed or entered private property.

He said: "The MMO started raiding properties and walking onto people’s boats, taking pictures and demanding information, asking who lived on the boats and how many people were there.

"I wasn't on the boat at the time, my wife was. They were heavy handed.

"We know they’ve been told they need to make themselves self sufficient, so they’re targeting people who live at the harbour. They are clearly just looking for new revenue streams."

An MMO spokesperson said: "MMO officers visited Bembridge to carry out pre-investigation enquiries relating to marine licensing requirements for house boats.

"The area attended is a public area and there was no entry onto private property without invitation.

"We are in the preliminary stages of our enquires and are unable to comment further at this time."

Mr Lowe said residents planned to hold a meeting on February 1 to discuss the issue."