Boat owners on the non-tidal Thames face another above-inflation increase in annual registration charges.

The Environment Agency has now closed consultations with user groups on the proposal for inflation plus 2% for the third year - which would amount to around 5%.

River Thames News received queries from boat owners about how they could comment on the planned increase. But a spokesperson for the agency said consultation was only open to clubs and user groups.

In a consultation document on the 2014 charges the agency says:” With approximately 11,000 boats on the River Thames we are facing significant challenges to the way we deliver a safe and financially sustainable navigation in the face of funding pressures.

“Already this financial year we have had a £500,000 reduction in our revenue budget, being approximately 8%. Growing our own income to become more financially self-sustaining is more important than ever.”

The news comes as the agency steps up its enforcement activities.

The document says; “In 2012 .. our officers visually checked 9,500 [boats], issuing 1,017 offence reports (c.400% increase of enforcement on previous years). This was done through a combination of registration checks at locks, regular patrols and targeted campaigns. We achieved 19 successful prosecutions.

“During 2013 to date, our officers have carried out 2,700 visual checks and issued 350 offence reports. The team aims to complete a visual check of every boat on the river before 31 December.”

Among the measures the agency says it is taking to cut costs are:

  • A reduction in seasonal staff numbers from 30 summer assistants in 2012 to 18 in 2013.

    Lock volunteers increasing to 190 this year, compared with 156 last year providing 3,000 volunteer days, equating to roughly 14 full time summer assistant staff and saving around  £100,000.

    15 volunteer boatmen to help enforcement activity.

    Maintenance budget reduced from £1.3 million to £0.9 million.

Consultation results will be put to a national customer meeting in September for final decision by the end of September or early October.

What’s your view about the proposed increase?
Email us at editor@riverthamesnews.com for inclusion on our River Thames Views page

Story dated August 27th 2013

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