Boat users face Broads toll rise
The Broads Authority sailed into controversy yesterday after it said boat users must face a 6pc rise in tolls to go on riverways from next year.A full meeting of the authority in Norwich agreed an across the board 6pc rise in tolls for all boats in 2010/11 - the second such rise in a row.
The Broads Authority sailed into controversy yesterday after it said boat users must face a 6pc rise in tolls to go on riverways from next year.
A full meeting of the authority in Norwich agreed an across the board 6pc rise in tolls for all boats in 2010/11 - the second such rise in a row.
Yesterday's decision was likened to killing the goose that laid the golden egg by the organisation which represents private boat owners who use the Broads.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Boating Association (NSBA) had demanded that any increases should be kept to a maximum of 5pc so people were not put off taking to the water.
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New tolls for 2010/11 will see the annual charge for a small dinghy rise from �43.60 to �46.22, the toll for an 18m square yacht rise by �7.84 and a 25m square motor rise from �222.80 to �236.17.
Last night, the chief executive of the Broads Authority defended the increases by saying they were good value for money and would help maintain the Broads.
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The NSBA had asked the Broads Authority to take into account the current economic climate when setting tolls and claimed that the fees had risen by 122pc between 1998 and last year.
During yesterday's meeting a proposed lower rise of 5pc was rejected by authority members.
The NSBA said it was disappointed that boat users had been hit in the pocket with a 6pc rise for the second year in a row
NSBA chairman Mark Wells said: “The Broads Authority is in danger of killing the golden goose if it keeps on with higher than inflation increases.
“It will result in boats being taken off the water and that will be bad for all of us - the boat users, the Broads Authority, Broadland businesses, especially the already struggling pubs and restaurants.
“We feel strongly that the authority should adopt a clear strategy to reduce costs, cut out unnecessary activities and increase productivity.”
Money from the 6pc increase will be used on dredging and water improving operations after a 2009 survey of boat users said they should be the authority's two main priorities.
It will also help the authority's medium economic strategy and should mean that from 2013 there will only be inflationary rises in new tolls.
Chairman of the Broads Authority, Stephen Johnson said: “We appreciate that these are difficult economic times and there is a balance to be struck between what toll payers can afford and the additional maintenance they would like to see of the navigation system.
“Members supported a 6pc increase in charges with the aim of achieving only inflationary increases from 2013. Tolls on the Broads remain good value for money.”