After years of pressure from the NSBA, Broads Authority officers are at last proposing a low single digit increase in annual river tolls – the tax boat owners pay to use the Broads. But the NSBA is not happy that the Authority’s officals want to use the increase to re-structure the tolls payments without proper negotiation or consultation. Until recently, increases of 5-6% across the board were being mooted for next year following a decade of even heavier increases.
“It appears the Broads Authority may have at last woken up to the realities of the economic situation, and the ability of owners to pay ever higher tolls,” said NSBA Chairman Mark Wells
In the Authority’s Navigaton Committee’s tolls debate, officers proposed a 2.85% average rise profiled in such a way that the small boats faced a 1% increase and the largest boats faced a 4.4% increase. Financial reports presented at the meeting and enhanced by questions put to officers garnered the information that the likely outturn for the current year was a £50,000 underspend (about 2% of the tolls income). Mindful of the, as yet unknown, costs associated with taking over Breydon Water (likely to occur next year) and the current rate of inflation, the committee accepted the officer’s recommendation of a 2.85% increase but recommended that it should be a flat rate increase applicable to all sizes of craft. The feeling was that if the Authority wanted to encourage particular classes of craft, it should do so as the result of a thorough review of the tolls structure, not by trying to skew the way that increases were applied.
On the subject of an integrated access strategy for the Broads officers’ acknowledged the need to enshrine the right to navigate.
David Broad was elected Navigation Committee Chairman and NSBA Commitee member Phil Ollier was elected Vice Chairman. Both were put forward for appointment to the Broads Authority as Navigation Committee representatives.