Sunday, 27 November 2005

The Licence Fee Saga

There has been a lot of controversy over the last several months about the licence fee paid by boaters for putting their boat on the water.

The canals, as they have evolved today, are about being out on the water. All boaters pay for that privilege.

The private boater, that is to say those that have a boat for their own personal use, come in two basic types. Those that spend their life on the water and move around the system continuously, the Continuous Cruiser and (for want of a better term) the Part Time Boater who for reasons personal to themselves cannot spend all their time on the water and need a place too moor up while they are not boating.

Now at the point of sale of the licence both boaters pay the same fee, for a given size of boat, for exactly the same access to the whole system or part of it as dictated by the size of their boat.

If you consider as I said earlier that the point of the canals is to be out on the water you will probably agree that the licence fee is fair. I see no problem with every boater paying the same licence fee.

However those that are not able to take full advantage of the waterways, must have a place to park their boat when they are working or the kids are at school or whatever else they do when not boating.

Some of their mooring fee is paid back to British Waterways by their 'mooring provider'. This is good business, recover your overheads. This leads to the part time boater complaining that they pay more to have a boat that the CCer, even though they don’t use the system as much. I am not going to argue against this, as it does seem unfair.

But when buying a boat this should have been one of the things that they took into consideration. I am all for PTB raising the point of mooring costs. Costs should be addressed. I cannot accept that it is reasonable to try and include the cost that the CCer pays while making their point about mooring costs. CCers use the same mooring (for free) that all boaters use (for free) when out on the water.

Licence fees and mooring fees are two separate issues and should be kept so. Using the CCer’s enviable position to make a point about mooring fees is at best fruitless.

There are those who say that CCer’s are getting away without paying their dues. This could not be further from the truth. BW asks all CCer’s to pay a licence fee for their use of the canal. This most of them do. So their 'dues' are determined by BW. If they are paying what is asked of them I have to ask, "what are they getting away with?"

Answer Nothing!

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