Boaters’ disappointment at Broads tolls shake-up
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Boat owners have voiced concern over a newly-approved overhaul to the way Broads tolls are calculated.
On Friday, a majority of Broads Authority members gave the final go-ahead to the ambitious plans, which will change the current variable and fixed costs to one fixed charge based on the size of the craft.
Boats will be divided into one of 14 categories – either private or commercial – to determine how much they are charged per square metre.
The authority says the new method will be simpler and fairer and will encourage more small boats, the numbers of which are declining, onto the Broads. But some boaters disagree and fear their concerns have not been listened to.
Brian Wilkins, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association, said 'First of all, the authority does need to raise its revenues and roughly 50pc of those come from boat tolls.
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'We have had a long review process, which started in September last year, but it was not until June that the NSBA was invited to a stakeholder meeting. We want to see as much openness as possible and we have not felt very engaged. There has not been enough consultation with us, and next to nothing with toll payers.'
He said the NSBA believed the previous format, which is used by the Canal and River Trust, was fairer.
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'The changes that people will face now will be significant - there will either be big savings or big increases depending on if they have a small or big boat,' he said.
Speaking after Friday's meeting, sailing boat owner and angler Peter Waller, 70, said he felt toll payers had not been told about the changes.
'It's been dealt with at the quiet time of the season where boats are packed up,' he said. 'I think there has to be an adjustment to the tolls, that I do not question, but when you are talking about a 50pc rise in some boats it's quite significant.'
Chris Moffatt, from Hoveton, co-owns a houseboat, and said the changes were 'deeply unfair'.
'It was unjust. It wasn't reasonably thought out and discussed with a proper cross section of the Broads community,' he said.
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