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Luise
Apr-28-2016 @ 9:52 AM                           Permalink
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On 31 March 2016, I paid the 2016-2017 toll for one of my craft by cheque, enclosed in a letter to the CEO including the following observations:

“… the reduction in the multiplier for weekly hired craft from 2.62 to 2.55 means a 5.8% increase for private boat tolls and a 2.3% increase for hire boats. Stated reasons for this differential include “the ongoing decline in hire boats on the Broads and information from the Broads Hire Boat Federation that another 20 to 30 boats are likely to leave the industry next year” and “the importance of the hire boat industry to the local economy and the pressures upon it economy”.

This is rather given the lie to by reports such as “latest figures from Herbert Woods show that bookings have shot up by 40% for picnic boat hires” and that, even if true, the running costs of these 20 to 30 boats will be saved as a consequence of their not being discouraged from building bigger and bigger craft to replace decommissioned older ones.

I feel that the importance of the hire boat industry to local services and businesses in comparison to the private boat fleet is somewhat exaggerated. How many people are actually employed by the hire companies? More or fewer than all the boatyards and marinas which service private boats? Who spends most money on accessories, electronic equipment, clothing? Who are the customers of yacht brokers, marinas? Over the course of a year, do Fred, Flo and Fido spend more in restaurants and pubs than the crews of expensive yachts?

It is particularly incongruous that the toll on my boat's tender (“T/T Luise”, reg. no. 285X), used perhaps once or twice a year, should be increased more than a 45' hire craft occupying scarce mooring places to the maximum.

I shall not be renewing its toll this year, a loss of £99.32 to the Broads Authority and one less customer for Marine Tech or C.C. Marine who would have serviced its outboard motor”

My tolls payment was receipted by the Tolls Office with a hand-written note to the effect that my letter had been passed to the CEO for reply. To date, no reply has been received. May I expect one?

Since then, yet another small hire firm has ceased trading…

Can we be assured that Broads Authority decisions aren't unduly influenced by the increasingly dominant position of the larger hire companies?

JP
Apr-28-2016 @ 6:22 PM                           Permalink
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Dear Peter,

Apologies for not replying to your letter before now – sorry we have been really busy.
I have tracked it down and will try and answer your points here.

The recommendation regarding the reduction in the hire boat multiplier by the Navigation Committee was initiated by Members following the Authority’s survey of hire boat operators and private boat owners. They recognise that both private owners and the hire boat fleet make important contributions to the local economy but have been concerned about the on-going decline in hire boat numbers.

I am sure you are right in suggesting that the large yards which have often diversified are in a reasonable financial position. However, at the other end of the scale we are continuing to see the closure of small yards and the consequential loss of toll income.

We review the charges on an annual basis and this year a group of Members is looking at the whole structure of the tolls. This is one of the issues they are considering.

In terms of the detail:
•     My understanding is that picnic boats are not booked any more than two or three days in advance, so I am unsure where the figure of 40% increase at Herbert Woods came from.
•     In addition to the predicted reduction of 20-30 hire boats this season, for which the Authority budgeted a £20k reduction in hire income, we have seen the closure of one yard in the southern broads and a significant scaling back of another. This year’s hire income is approximately £50k lower than the already reduced budget figure, a full analysis of the reduction is yet to take place.
•     A typical 45 foot hire cruiser (45’x12’ = 50m2) had an increase of £33.33 this year, an entry level private motor boat had an increase of £5.04

Hope you have a good summer in Luise.

With regards

John


kfurbank
Apr-28-2016 @ 6:41 PM                           Permalink
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Hi John,

I hope you don't mind me chipping in here, but my own boat saw an increase in toll of £21.24 and I don't have a seasons worth of paying clients to help bear the cost. If the hire boat was out on hire for 16 weeks, I'm sure the newer 45 footers are more, then it would be circa £2 per hire. Seems in percentage terms the privateers faired badly this year, on top of continuing above inflation hikes.

Happy to support the honest and reliable pubs and businesses of The Norfolk Broads.

TerryTibbs
Apr-28-2016 @ 8:52 PM                           Permalink
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John the loss of the smaller yard, is this down to unprofitability or the fact they can make more profit from re-development of the site. The reduction in multiplyer doesnot seem to have had an effect on closures.

Dave

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