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Broads boaters facing increase in tolls

PUBLISHED: 16:06 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 October 2017

Boats on the River Bure near Horning.  Picture: James Bass

Boats on the River Bure near Horning. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2016

Around 10,000 Broads boaters could face a 3pc tolls increase for 2018/19 period following a vote by the Broads Authority Navigation Committee.

People enjoying the warm weather on the River Bure at Wroxham. Picture : ANTONY KELLY People enjoying the warm weather on the River Bure at Wroxham. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

If given the go-ahead, this would equate to a charge of around £13.50 per square metre for a private petrol or diesel motor boat and £30 per square metre for a weekly hired motor craft.

The navigation committee met on Thursday to discuss a range of issues including proposed toll charges.

A Broads Authority report revealed an increase in the number of private boats and better than expected performance in hire boat numbers had placed it in a stronger than expected financial position.

This meant it could introduce a below inflationary increase of just 1pc in tolls for the 2018/19 period, which would allow it to maintain its current level of services.

Boats on the River Bure at Acle during a heatwave in July.

Picture: James Bass Boats on the River Bure at Acle during a heatwave in July. Picture: James Bass

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation reached 3pc in September, rising in line with expectations from 2.9pc in August.

While addressing Thursday’s meeting, Broads Authority chief executive John Packman said tolls would need to increase by more than 1pc if the authority were to address some of the most common concerns raised by boaters.

This included extending ranger patrols, carrying out additional bankside tree and scrub management and increasing dredging operations.

But Mr Packman said given the current situation, a below 3pc increase “seemed reasonable”.

Navigation committee member Brian Wilkins said he wanted to see an increase that would allow the authority to continue doing what it was and “hopefully a little bit more”.

Secretary of state appointee John Ash said a below inflation increase of 1pc or 1.5pc would send “the right sort of message” while Kelvin Allen said he would not support an increase over the rate of inflation.

Michael Whitaker said with rising food prices and transport costs the committee should not expect toll payers to pay a premium above CPI.

Following the discussion, Mr Wilkins proposed a 3pc across the board increase. The matter went to vote and the proposal was accepted.

Mr Packman said it would be considered at the next Broads Authority meeting on November 24.

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