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BW 2009 licence fees announced

BW has announced an 8.5% rise in licence fees next year - or a 6.2% increase taking into account yesterday's cut in VAT. 

Controversial plans to charge wide-beam boats and continuous cruisers more have been dropped - but the continuous cruiser 'issue' is still on the table, and BW is now considering a roving mooring permit system. Wide-beam boaters appear to be safe for now.

BW's full announcement runs:

The great majority of those responding to the final phase of consultation (primarily national boating organisations) were opposed to any redistribution of licence fee increases between wide and narrow boats or between those with home moorings and those without.  BW has therefore decided not to accept in their entirety the BWAF proposals.  The decision also has regard to the deteriorating economic climate which could weaken demand for boat licences in 2009.  Fees will therefore rise by less than the 11.2% increase previously outlined for most boaters.

The net (ex VAT) price of BW’s boat licences in England and Wales will increase by the following amounts from 1 April 2009.  Figures in brackets show the effective increase for individual boaters after taking account of the reduction in the VAT rate just announced.  
Leisure business licences: 7.5% 
Gold licences: 8.2% (5.9% taking VAT into account)
All other licences: 8.5% (6.2% taking VAT into account)

Simon Salem, BW’s marketing and customer services director, comments: “We are shelving plans to introduce a higher fee for wide beamed boats and for seeking government support for the abolition of the rivers only licence fee.  However, we continue to support the view expressed by many boaters in the 2007 consultation that it is unfair that continuous cruisers do not make a contribution to the cost of maintaining the waterways that is commensurate with those who take a home mooring.

“We appreciate that this is a difficult issue and not all boaters agree on either the extent of the problem or on the solution.  Sales of continuous cruising licences have been growing significantly and, despite the terms and conditions of the licence, there is evidence that a growing number choose to remain on temporary moorings in relatively narrow geographic areas.  The risk of congestion on particularly popular waterways therefore presents a management challenge that we must address.

“BW is therefore considering workable policies to implement during 09/10 that will encourage the proportion of boaters without a home mooring but who wish to remain within a specific area of the network to choose an appropriate mooring option.  The option of a ‘roving mooring permit’ could cater for those who like to have no fixed base and cruise short distances between temporary moorings within easy reach of their work or other land-based commitment.  By purchasing such a permit, they would no longer be classified as continuous cruisers.”

Alongside proposals for a ‘roving mooring permit’ BW will continue to examine alternative options relating to the structure and pricing of continuous cruising licences.  Any proposals, which will seek to avoid penalising those who genuinely cruise extensively around the network, will be discussed with BWAF and other representatives of national boating organisations. They will also take account of any relevant market research.  No further formal public consultation on the matter is planned.

Boat licence fees for Scotland are currently being consulted upon with a proposed 6.3% licence fee increase from April 2009.  Transit licences are due to be held at 2008 prices.

Tuesday 25 November  | Richard Fairhurst  | 3.40pm, Tuesday 25 November 2008

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