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97 Interview by Ginny Ware


DARTMOUTH HARBOUR MASTER


Captain Mark Cooper C


APTAIN Mark Cooper liaised with NATO’s 28 member nations to successfully implement a mutually beneficial and cohesive defence


plan before he was appointed Dartmouth’s new harbour master. His honed communication and leadership skills should stand him in good stead to aid the formation and delivery of the DHNA Strategic Plan aimed at safeguarding the future of the River Dart for the benefit of the people living along its banks and satisfying the river’s three user groups. Of course the authority is never


going to please all of the people all of the time but Captain Cooper says he will try his best to ensure everyone’s views and opinions about the future of the beautiful Dart are taken into account. Just four weeks into the job when I interviewed him, Captain Cooper seemed to have a handle on the unique challenges facing the authority and his role in tackling them.


“I thought the job was all going to be about moorings, navigation,


buoys, pilotage, slipways and yachts but when I got here for the interview I


realised it was really about stakeholder engagement.”


“I thought the job was all going to be about


moorings, navigation, buoys, pilotage, slipways and yachts but when I got here for the interview I realised it was really about stakeholder engagement,” he said. “There’s a diverse interest in DHNA and for me it’s the balance of getting the people from the stakeholder groups to have their input into discussion on where we take the river in the future. How do we position


ourselves to best look after that and what do they want.” “The board look after things but their decisions


reflect the needs of the stakeholders and for me, the policy needs to be clear. It’s just like NATO, whatever I do I will upset somebody so having a clear policy that reflects feedback from those stakeholder groups will help me to avoid some criticism. I hope to help the board focus on the further development of long- term policy and strategic objectives derived from the current five-year plan. “The Strategic Plan already


developed by the board takes into account significant input from stakeholders including the community and my job now will be to move the plan forward ensuring that my actions follow the plan. But this will not be simple and I expect to have to seek clarity from the board to enable me to successfully operationalise the plan. The current plan uses words like safety, protection, environment and


thriving community and these can be read to mean different things to different stakeholders. ” Captain Cooper’s accommodating nature showed itself when I made an impromptu visit to the harbour office to fix a time and date for an interview. He agreed to a chat there and then in the spare half hour he had between meetings in his busy schedule. In a way, his working life has come full circle as he


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