You can’t expect us boaters to pick up all the bills
I have just read Steve Haywood’s column in the July edition of Canal Boat and whilst I agree with his initial observation as to the widening funding gap for CRT, he appears in the complexity of his description of charging by the mile, to be giving credence to the notion that this gap can be filled by an increase in the amount of money levied on boaters as licence fees.
It is my opinion that the problem of a crumbling waterways infrastructure cannot be solved by increasing boaters licence fees and this is surely well known to C& RT as is perhaps evidenced by the funding being drawn down from various charitable trusts for towpath upgrades, environmental projects and the like.
To be successful in not only preserving but developing a sustainable inland waterways system for the 21st century, CRT is yet to fully exploit its charitable status and the value of the waterways for all in defining a charitable purpose and agenda that will win the widest possible support through donations from both charitable trusts, commercial organisations and private sources.
It must also not lose sight of the prime purpose of the waterways – navigation and remember that without boaters these waterways will quickly decline to their previous state.
As to the purpose of the current licence fee consultation, this is known only to CRT and we have to accept their reasons given. However based on my own conversations with boaters, marina staff, and commercial operators I have identified only one group who are discontent with present arrangements – this being the weekenders who have marina fees as well as licence fees to pay each year and believe they are the only group affected in this way.
I would submit to them and to CRT that this is not a problem with the current licensing system but simply the price to be paid for not being able to fulfil the Continuous Cruiser requirement which should be more onerous in terms of the annual navigation distance perhaps by a factor of 10.
We have cruised more than 200 miles already this year despite mooring the boat in a marina for three months during the winter.
I trust I have said enough to stir the muddy waters of this debate and look forward to any feedback in your future pages.
GRAHAM ROLLETT, nb KBO via email
Towpath work, funded from outside CRT