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Steep licence fee rises spark anger on the Avon

PUBLISHED: 07:33 07 February 2017

At Stratford-upon-Avon | David Merrett, Flickr CC2.0

At Stratford-upon-Avon | David Merrett, Flickr CC2.0

Archant

A flat rate for all craft over 50ft has been replaced with a sliding scale, with the longest boats seeing the greatest rise

Boaters based on the Warwickshire Avon say that steep licence fee rises are making life very difficult, especially for those with longer craft.

However, independent navigation authority the Avon Navigation Trust has defended the increases, stating that there was a full consultation, its licences are cheaper than most waterways and they will improve fairness.

Up to now, charges have been based on boat length, but with a flat rate for all craft over 50ft. This is to be replaced by a sliding scale continuing right up to 70ft. This means longer boats will see steep percentage rises:

30ft – annual fee rises from £220 to £333 (up 32 percent)

40ft – £275 to £377 (37 percent)

60ft – £313 to £499 (59 percent)

70ft – £313 to £575 (83 percent)

Boat owner Jay Benham said: “Whilst we, as boaters, fully understand the importance of maintaining this beautiful part of the world, and would be happy to pay more each year, none of us could have foreseen the increase on this scale”.

In its consultation, ANT said it needed to close an £80,000 annual funding gap to secure a sustainable future for the navigation. It published graphs showing that even after the changes, the Avon would still cost less than the Thames, the Anglian waterways and the Canal & River Trust system, and only slightly more than the Broads.

ANT also said it had amended its proposals in the light of consultation responses. It had reduced the fee rise for small boats, classed sailing craft as unpowered, introduced payment in instalments and cut the supplement for residential craft – and that most respondents supported the changes.

So far the only rises announced are for long-term licences, but ANT says that its strategy going forward will include “a slightly more expensive short term licence” for visiting craft.

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