Steep li­cence fee rises spark anger on the Avon

WAR­WICK­SHIRE AVON

Canal Boat - - News -

BOATERS BASED ON the War­wick­shire Avon say that steep li­cence fee rises are mak­ing life very dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially for those with longer craft.

How­ever, the in­de­pen­dent nav­i­ga­tion author­ity, the Avon Nav­i­ga­tion Trust (ANT), has de­fended its in­creases on the ba­sis that they im­prove fair­ness, that it needs the funds, that its li­cences are cheaper than most wa­ter­ways, and that there was a full con­sul­ta­tion. Up to now, charges have been based on boat length, but with a flat rate for all craft over 50ft. This is to be re­placed by a slid­ing scale con­tin­u­ing right up to 70ft. This means longer boats will see steep per­cent­age rises: 30ft: an­nual fee rises by 32% from £ 220 to £333 37%, £ 275 to £377 59%, £313 to £499 83%, £313 to £ 575 Boat owner Jay Ben­ham said that “whilst we, as boaters, fully un­der­stand the im­por­tance of main­tain­ing this beau­ti­ful part of the world, and would be happy to pay more each year, none of us could have fore­seen the in­crease on this scale”.

In its con­sul­ta­tion ANT said it needed to close an £ 80,000 an­nual fund­ing gap to se­cure a sus­tain­able fu­ture for the nav­i­ga­tion, and pub­lished graphs show­ing that even af­ter the changes, the Avon would still cost less than the Thames, the Anglian wa­ter­ways, and the Canal & River Trust sys­tem, and only slightly more than the Broads. ANT also said it had amended its pro­pos­als in the light of con­sul­ta­tion re­sponses: it had re­duced the fee rise for small boats, classed sail­ing craft as un­pow­ered, in­tro­duced pay­ment in in­stal­ments and cut the sup­ple­ment for res­i­den­tial craft – and that most re­spon­dents sup­ported the changes.

So far the only rises an­nounced are for long-term li­cences; how­ever, ANT says its strat­egy go­ing for­ward will in­clude “a slightly more ex­pen­sive short-term li­cence” for vis­it­ing craft.

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