THE Inland Waterways Association has welcomed Canal & River Trust’s announcement that it will consult widely on a review of the structure of boat licensing fees to take effect from April 2018.
IWA looks forward to taking part during the engagement and consultation period and will put forward its own proposals as part of the process. It is, however, disappointed by the announcement that CRT will increase licence fees for both pleasure and business craft by 2.5% from April 1, 2017.
For the last 3 years, 2014 to 2016, CRT held licence increases at inflation only, using the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) as a guide, and IWA considered that this was a fair and reasonable approach. CPI is currently 1% and IWA considers that an increase of 2.5% in these uncertain economic times is not fair on boaters.
IWA is particularly concerned about the impact the proposals will have on those with business licences, such as trading boats, hire companies and canal societies.
National Chairman Les Etheridge said “No one likes a price increase, but the important point is that the current licence system gets a thorough overhaul to ensure all boaters contribute in a fair and sustainable way to the upkeep of the nation’s waterways without penalising those who play by the rules.”
He added “It may be time to consider a radical approach – for example, on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, which IWA manages through its subsidiary company Essex Waterways Ltd, there are no boat licence fees, with income from boaters collected through a single mooring fee. That might be hard to achieve on CRT waterways, but we shouldn’t be afraid of looking at new ideas.”