Anger at Broads tolls rise
Key Broadland figures have criticised the 2.85pc boat tolls rise announced by the Broads Authority - even though it is the lowest increase for 17 years.
The authority said the below-inflation rise, made possible by unanticipated extra income from the growth in the hire boat fleet, recognised the financial pressure on many boaters.
However, Peter Horsefield, chairman of the Broads Society, said: 'I see no reason to be pleased with this lesser increase because it is still a significant matter for the authority's customers. It is more than anybody can get from their savings and is almost certain to be less than their private sector pension or salary increases.
'It is time to question whether any increase at all can be justified. Of course, the plea will be increased costs, but in the competitive world of private industry these costs have to be absorbed by the business.'
Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association spokesman Mark Wells said: 'In present circumstances, any increase is too much, and just about every other local authority has realised that. This is especially so when one considers the economies the authority has made at the expense of boat users – such as doing away with the specialist navigation ranger service and combining it with the countryside service.
'For all that, the increase is less than the authority was contemplating even a just a few months ago – so perhaps the powers that be at Dragonfly House are slowly beginning to wake up to the real world.'
The Broads Hire Boat Federation's secretary Tony Howes said: 'Our members are unhappy about any increase in tolls at present, with continued pressure on their returns due to difficult market conditions.'
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David Broad the new chairman of the Broads Authority's navigation committee, said: 'The navigation committee unanimously agreed that there should be an increase of 2.85pc in the tolls for 2012/13. This figure recognizes that there may well be significant additional costs next year. These relate to Breydon Water coming under the Broads Authority's control and to the authority taking on the financial responsibility for running Norwich Yacht Station.
'If any predicted costs do not arise, the money will be spent on maintenance of the waterways, with the provision of moorings being a particular priority.'
A fuller version can be read in the current edition of Anglia Afloat.