CRT fees ‘not fair’, says IWA
ABOVE-INFLATION BOAT licence fee increases have been attacked as being ‘not fair on boaters’ by the Inland Waterways Association – and it is calling on the Canal & River Trust to consider a ‘radical new approach’ for the future.
This year’s 2.5 percent rise follows three years of increases tied to inflation. CRT abandoned the peg in favour of a 2.5 percent increase (compared to one percent inflation) from 1 April 2017 on the grounds that inflation is widely predicted to rise during 2017.
The Association said it was “disappointed” and added that the hike “in these uncertain times is not fair on boaters”. It was particularly concerned at the effect on trading boats, hire craft and canal societies.
However, for the longer term, IWA welcomed the news that CRT will consult on a review of the entire licensing structure in time for the April 2018 revision.
Chairman Les Etheridge said it might be time to consider a radical approach, giving as an example the IWA-run Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation where there are no licence fees and all boat income comes from moorings. He accepted that this might be tricky on the CRT network, but added: “We shouldn’t be afraid of looking at new ideas.”
The Association also expressed misgivings about Scottish Canals’ proposed increases of between two to five percent, pointing out that mooring and licence costs in Scotland have already risen by 30 percent in four years. It suggested that SC appeared to “regard servicing boaters and boating as a low priority”.
IWA’s Gren Messham added that “IWA considers that fees on the waterways managed by Scottish Canals need to be affordable in order to increase the number of people using them.”