A NEW annual festival will be held to mark the start of a new era for Fisherrow harbour and seafront, which is the focus for major investment to create a seaside resort and boost the local economy.

The recently formed Fisherrow Harbour and Seafront Association (FHSA) is working with other organisations, such as Fisherrow Waterfront Group, to organise the event which has been described as “part of a wider community engagement strategy”.

The festival, which will be held at the harbour on May 18 from noon to 4pm, will celebrate the beginning of a period of investment in the area which got under way with new ladders at the harbour.

The project was funded with £170,000 from the town’s Common Good Fund after a health and safety survey concluded that some of the existing ladders should be “condemned”.

The survey, also carried out with grant-aid from Musselburgh Common Good Fund, found that the ladders were “in a dangerous state of repair” and fell into the ‘red’ category, meaning they required immediate attention.

East Lothian Council manages the site and work to replace 12 of the 22 ladders has been carried out.

Co-harbour manager David Banks said: “It’s great to be involved at the beginning of something new.

“The investment in the ladders has been a long time coming but now that they are here they are very welcome.

“The festival is about showing how proud we are of our harbour as well as launching our new ladders. But this is just the start in terms of investment.”

FHSA has been established to help drive investment into Fisherrow harbour and seafront for the good of the community, local people and visitors. It aims to do this by developing and delivering a strategy and action plan which builds on the area’s asset, upgrading and enhancing the harbour, and creating new facilities for local people and visitors.

Ultimately, the aim is to create a seaside resort where people can access quality water-based and seafront activities and which in turn will help to maximise the economic potential of the area.

The harbour, dubbed “the jewel in the area’s crown”, will provide the focus for major investment over the next five years.

It is hoped that the festival will attract hundreds of people to the harbour and waterfront area. It will coincide with Fisherrow Yacht Club’s Push The Boat Out event for new sailors.

Stuart Rillie, co-harbour manager, said: “There will be something for everyone, from rides for the kids to stalls for community groups and local businesses. We’re even going to build a boat.

“And there will be music for all ages with Dem Gun Runners and St David’s Brass Band. East Coast Radio will cover the event from beginning to end.

“We expect to see several hundred people attending.”

The harbour office will be used to get people involved in setting out a vision for the area.

Veronica Noone, FHSA vice-chair and chair of Fisherrow Waterfront Group. said: “Our vision is for a thriving and attractive Fisherrow combined harbour/seafront hub that is a positive asset for the wider local community. We have ambitions for the area as a major water sports hub. The historic harbour needs renovation and to pay for this we need to increase footfall to the area. But we don’t have a monopoly on ideas and we want to hear those of local people too.”

She added that it was hoped the festival would get “bigger and better” each year.