August 31 2014 Latest news:
By Lucy Clapham
Friday, March 28, 2014
Businesses and residents in a popular Broads village are bracing themselves for the introduction of a controversial overnight mooring fee - which they fear will put off holidaymakers.
The £3 charge to dock boats on Reedham Quay is set to come into force next month much to the dismay of villagers who have voiced grave concerns about the impact it will have on visitor numbers.
Broadland District Council and the Broads Authority, which are introducing the fee, say it will help secure the quay as a navigational stop off point, the continued provision of a ranger and to meet rising management costs.
But residents and businesses feel they are being singled out and claim the charge will put the village at a “huge disadvantage” compared to other holiday hotspots along the Broads.
Annette Terry, who with her husband Robert runs the riverside Cupcakes cafe, thought the fees were another thing “working against” the village.
She said: “They want thriving businesses and want a tourist attraction but they’re doing things contrary to helping businesses, that are here and survived the recession. Now do they want to finish us?
“I know it’s only £3 but that’s this year. What’s to stop them saying £6 next year, where does it end?”
Villagers also argued the legality of introducing mooring charges on what they say is a public quay, where docking should remain free, and have called for the council to show its “evidence” of how the fee can be put in place.
Reedham Parish Council, which is “100pc against” the payments, said it would continue to try and get answers about the legal reasoning.
Stephen Williamson, parish clerk, added: “We cannot see the slightest reason why Reedham should be singled out as the only place on the Norfolk Broads other than Great Yarmouth and Norwich, where overnight mooring fees should be charged.
“We really think this is the thin edge of the wedge.”
The introduction of mooring fees was first mentioned around 16 months ago and residents have been campaigning against them ever since.
John Fisher, portfolio holder for environmental excellence at Broadland council, said the authority was monitoring an online poll on the Norfolk Broads Forum about the charge, and so far the large majority of respondents thought the fee was “reasonable” and would not stop them visiting Reedham.
He added: “Absolutely the last thing we want is to stop people using local businesses and we will monitor the effect of the charge and will review it if there is evidence that it does affect their custom.
“At the end of the day this is a charge of £3 for an overnight stay which the evidence of the poll suggests most visitors will be prepared to pay. Local businesses can be accessed freely during the day when there is no charge for moorings.
“If there is clear evidence that businesses are adversely affected by this, we will review it. We all have the same interests at heart – a thriving local economy with good services and low council tax.”
Mr Fisher added the council had taken legal advice, which concluded that it had a right to charge.