CRT fees ‘not fair’, says IWA

Canal Boat - - News -

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.”

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