The TMBA were invited to present a paper to a meeting of the Thames All Party Parliamentary Group on 14th November 2018. The topic of the meeting was Thames funding issues. The TMBA paper addressed the issues from a boaters perspective and others from the EA, local authorities and marine trade also contributed papers.
Regrettably, the meeting was not well attended, possibly due to the comings and goings relating to Brexit discussions, but the papers have been circulated to interested MPs and it is hoped may have some value in raising awareness of the ongoing issues.
The TMBA paper can be read HERE
The EA have published the result of their Charges Consultation for 2019 and 2020 and have confirmed that they will impose the proposed 5.7% increase on Thames charges for 2019 and again in 2020.
The full consultation outcome document can be downloaded HERE
Thames boaters have fared rather better than Anglian waterways and River Medway boaters who are facing hikes of 7% and 10% respectively.
Regrettably, these increases will do little more than add some sticking plaster to the severe gap in funding – suggested to be £15 million per annum – arising from the governments austerity program and reductions in grant in aid funding for the waterways.
Whither does salvation lie? Only three options seem to present themselves:
1. Government recognises the public benefit of the waterways and provides a more appropriate level of funding.
2. Government pursues changes in current legislation to give EA greater freedom to pursue new income streams.
3. Government decide to press on with transferring the EA managed waterways to the Canal and River Trust which will also likely require further funding and revised legislation.
Note that all 3 options require government support and intervention.
In the meantime, all boaters can expect is continuing rises in charges and further reductions in services.
We have received interim information from the EA confirming that they received a total of 441 responses to the recent charges consultation of which just 159 were from Thames based users. Given that there are over 8,000 registered powered craft on the non tidal Thames this is disappointing. The total responses are barely 50% of the number received for the previous consultation last year when there were 870 responses nationally. Thames only figures are not available.
The EA expect to be able to communicate the outcome and confirm new charges for 2019 during week commencing November 5th 2018.
The EA consultation on navigation charges for 2019-21 closed yesterday. The TMBA submitted a formal response on behalf of its members and we await the outcome with interest.
The consultation itself raised several issues which we intend to pursue, not least how it was promulgated and the the form and value of many of the questions.
As we have stated previously, members of the TMBA are happy to pay reasonable charges for their enjoyment of a much valued navigational resource and understand the need to address the major shortfall in funding. However, we are not happy that we are being asked to support significant, above inflation, increases when many craft on the waterway are evading the payment of registration fees and many other current opportunities for revenue collection are not being diligently pursued.
A reminder that the EA consultation on Navigation Charges closes on 30th August. See detailed information here:
21 July 2018 – Why Boaters Should Respond to EA Consultation on Navigation Charges
We are also encouraging boaters who feel strongly on this issue to display a simple A4 poster on both sides of their boats ” SAY NO TO 5.7%”
You can download the file for printing here: