IWA is disappointed that the recent announcement by Canal & River Trust (CRT) of its intention to increase boat licence fees disproportionately for different user groups does not take on board the concerns that IWA and many other organisations and individuals raised.
Firstly, we are opposed to the introduction of surcharges that appear to be an attempt to change the principle that there is only one type of licence, the Pleasure Boat Licence.
We are also still concerned about the divisive effect of the consultation and ensuing discussion and announcement on the boating community, particularly at a time when CRT and the waterways need everyone’s support.
Boaters use the waterways in a wide range of different ways, either with or without a home mooring. It is not necessarily the case that continuous cruisers use the system and its facilities more than boaters with a home mooring.
IWA does support the proposal to charge by area, as this would bring CRT in line with the Environment Agency’s charging system and make Gold Licence administration more straightforward.
Regarding overall price rises, bearing in mind that CRT is dependent for a good part of its income on a Government grant that is not inflation linked, we appreciate that the Trust has no option but to try to raise more from other sources to compensate. However, increasing the licence fee beyond inflation risks pricing boaters off the system, or boaters simply being unable to pay, which could result in a net loss.
We would like to see CRT achieving a considerable increase in the non-boating income from all those who currently enjoy the waterways and whose benefits will suffer if they deteriorate.
Alongside this, we (and the Fund Britain’s Waterways action group) will continue to campaign for local and national government to recognise the many benefits including health and wellbeing that the inland waterways provide to a large part of the population and to fund them accordingly.