THE National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) has a number of concerns about the Canal & River Trust (CRT) review of boat licensing.
It is opposed to any increases in the cost of boat licences except for annual increases in line with inflation.
NBTA claims any price increase will make it harder for poorer boat dwellers to pay the licence fee and will result in more boats becoming unlicensed. It states it will do whatever it can to defend boaters who cannot afford to pay an increased fee.
There should be no differential pricing or regional licences. The price of a boat licence must remain the same regardless of whether a boat is licensed with or without a home mooring.
NBTA refutes CRT’s claims that the system is ‘overly complex’ and says its caseworkers currently assist around 170 boaters each year.
“Over the eight years of the NBTA’s existence, we have not received one single request for advice from boaters who find the CRT/BW licensing system ‘overly complex’, ‘unfair’ or ‘out of date’.”
It believes that CRT has already decided on the changes and will go ahead with these regardless of the outcome of the consultation.
NBTA states that the Prompt Payment Discount should be retained for all boaters regardless of whether they renew their licences online, by telephone or by post.
It claims that to disadvantage those who do not or cannot use the internet would be discriminatory and would fall foul of the Equality Act 2010. The availability of 12 monthly instalments should be more widely publicised by CRT.
NBTA adds that the consultation should be publicised in a way that will reach bargee travellers, many of whom do not have regular access to a postal address or to the internet. Email and online questionnaires should be considered as a supplement to paper questionnaires, not the opposite.