Scot­tish hire fleet is re­prieved

Canal Boat - - News -

CON­CERNS THAT the clo­sure of Caper­cail­lie Cruis­ers’ Falkirk hire-boat op­er­a­tion would mean an end to hol­i­day hire on Scot­land’s Low­land Canals have been al­layed by the an­nounce­ment of a new part­ner­ship be­tween three hire com­pa­nies and Scot­tish Canals.

The three com­pa­nies worked with Caper­cail­lie to pro­vide a com­bined fleet of around 20 nar­row­boats at Falkirk, where the Union Canal meets the Forth & Clyde Canal be­low the Falkirk Wheel, and the only hol­i­day hire base on the low­land wa­ter­ways.

But ear­lier this year the com­pany an­nounced it would close at the end of 2017, cit­ing in­creased charges im­posed by Scot­tish Canals. This led to fears that it would mean the end not only for Caper­cail­lie’s own three craft but also for the re­main­der of the fleet, fran­chised with the other three com­pa­nies.

Scot­tish Canals called the com­pany’s de­ci­sion “re­gret­table” and pointed out that “Caper­cail­lie has been ac­tively try­ing to sell the busi­ness for the past two years” in­clud­ing of­fer­ing it for sale to SC – but with “ex­ces­sive ex­pec­ta­tions” of what it was worth.

Mean­while, the In­land Wa­ter­ways As­so­ci­a­tion said there was “a large gap be­tween what Scot­tish Canals wishes to charge and what Caper­cail­lie Cruis­ers and po­ten­tially other op­er­a­tors be­lieve they can pay”.

How­ever Black Prince, ABC and Ma­rine Cruises have now agreed a new part­ner­ship with SC which will not only mean that 15 craft (six each from ABC and Black Prince plus three from Ma­rine Cruises) will con­tinue to op­er­ate, but ac­cord­ing to SC will “grow the hire boat fleet on the Low­land Canals”.

ABC’s Ed Helps said the agree­ment “her­alds a new era of hire-boat hol­i­days on the Low­land Canals”, while Leighton Jones of Black Prince said the com­pany would start tak­ing book­ings for 2018 and beyond. Ma­rine Cruises’ Hay­ley No­den said the deal gave the three com­pa­nies “all the se­cu­rity they need” to de­liver hol­i­day this year and next year.

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