Broads hire boat companies ‘rethinking’ plans to expand after 27pc increase in river tolls
- Credit: Steve Adams
Hire boat companies on the Broads say a 27pc increase to some river toll charges has forced them to 'rethink' plans to expand.
The Broads Authority approved changes to the toll system back in November in order to make the system 'fairer, simpler and more flexible'.
It has resulted in smaller boats playing less and bigger boats paying more to use the waterways.
But the changes have resulted in criticism from some passenger boat operators, who say they are having to pay hundreds of pounds more each year per vessel.
Paul Greasley, who owns Broads Tours in Wroxham and runs five passenger craft, said the new system was 'extraordinarily unfair'.
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He said: 'I would have preferred for the tolls review group to actually consider what the passenger boats do for the Broads.
'It will cost us another £3,500 of expense which we will have to find from somewhere. It won't cause us to go bust, but I won't consider putting any more boats on the water.'
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The toll review, described by the authority as the 'biggest shake up in tolls for more than three decades', was the result of a year of research.
It saw the previous system, which used both a variable and fixed cost, changed to a single charge based on the size of the craft.
Some of the 16 passenger boats currently operating on the Broads now have to pay a 27pc increase in river tolls at £38.10 per square metre.
The Broads Authority said seven passenger boats would be paying less, while nine of the larger vessels would pay more.
When the proposals were discussed last year, authority members asked the chief executive to speak to the tolls review group and 'look again' at their advice on passenger boat tolls.
But a spokesman for the authority said the review group unanimously agreed to continue with the original proposal.
Stephen Wilson, operations manager at Waveney River Tours on Oulton Broad, said: 'Their [The Broads Authority] opinion is that people with larger boats can afford to pay more, but you can't treat everyone the same.
'We are different from the guys at Wroxham, because they attract far more visitors.
'We were looking at running another couple of boats on the Broads, but because of the new rates we are now thinking very carefully before putting more boats on the water.