Thousands of boat owners could be affected by Broads Authority’s proposed changes to tolls restructure

A busy weekend at Ranworth staithe on the Norfolk Broads.

A busy weekend at Ranworth staithe on the Norfolk Broads. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010

Thousands of boat owners could be affected by proposed changes to the way Broads tolls are calculated.

The new Broads Authority system would see tolls worked out by multiplying the area of boats by a fixed sum per square metre, set according to the vessel's category.

It would replace a system which the authority says is 'more complex' and includes both fixed and variable costs, as well as multipliers and discounts.

Estimates using the charges paid for 2016/17 suggest that 5,673 boats would see a decrease in tolls on the new system, with 4,133 out of pocket.

In a report by chief executive John Packman ahead of a meeting of the financial scrutiny and audit committee today, he says the changes would be a 'simpler, fairer arrangement'.

It is hoped the idea would address concerns about the £100 charge for small motor boats, which would be dropped to £60 to £70.

'The authority hopes that if the new arrangements are adopted it would encourage more small boat owners to pay a toll and use the Broads', the report says.

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The biggest sailing boats, the seven wherries, would be subject to a fixed charge which, because of their 'iconic status', would likely be lowered.

Split into two headings, private and commercial, the 14 new categories would include day hire, house boats and sailing boats.

The report accepts the changes contain 'some element of risk', but says the authority has limited the impact by consulting with boating organisations.

Committee members will today be invited to give their suggestions on the idea, with a decision expected by the end of September.

If approved, the changes would come into force in 2017/18.

It comes after the authority agreed to trial a system of paperless tolls in March, with tolls plaques removed and data instead stored electronically.

How will the changes affect you? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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