Another council wants to 'fine' boaters

February 2018 - It seems another council is seeking to drive boaters away as Fenland District Council, a small local authority proposes to use local bye-laws to fine any boater who stays more than 36 hours on moorings in March and Whittlesey, as Alec Wood reports.

Moorings on the River Nene are few and far between and local towns with mooring benefit considerably from the trade brought by boaters but it seems we are unwelcome if we want to stay more than a day and a half.

Fenland Council's River Nene moorings are free for 36 hours, but the council alleges that, last year 'several boats overstayed the restrictions in March for a considerable length of time'.

In a press release the council alleges local residents and March Town Council raised the issue with them, claiming it prevented other boaters from being able to access the and was 'having a potentially negative impact on tourism for the town and local businesses'.​

Now Fenland District Council has launched a consultation on proposals to adopt what it calls 'a civil law approach' to the way it enforces the 36-hr period, presumably by issue car parking style tickets and attempting to claim 'fines' through the civil courts.

The Council says it wants to retain free 36 hour visitor mooring, but is proposing to follow it with a specified 'no-return' period for 48 hours.

River users overstaying the 36 hour limit will be logged and then 'fined' for every 24 hours that they overstay, in a similar way that supermarkets manage car parks. It says: “This would be clearly signposted at the moorings and enforced by the Council.”

Fenland council admits; “The proposal comes after the Council investigated how other authorities with moorings manage the same issue of overstaying boats. It was clear that a bye-laws approach does not work, with authorities such as East Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council also adopting a civil law approach.

Cllr Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: "Unfortunately there were a number of boats which ignored the mooring bye-laws last year. This new approach is intended to balance the need for a regular turnover of boaters, whilst allowing an adequate length of stay for boaters to enjoy the facilities and visitor attractions that Fenland has to offer.”

He must think that a day and a half is more than enough to enjoy the facilities of March and Whittlesey.

Consultation – meaningful or otherwise – is the cloak councils and other bodies like to wear and the councillor launched a consultation lasting four weeks which hasn't been publicised in any boating publications of which The Floater is aware.

He claims: "We'd like to hear the views of river users regarding this approach and putting a more robust scheme in place to prevent the overstaying problem this spring and summer."

But the consultation ends on February 26, with the new management scheme coming into force on April 1.

Photos: (1st) The River Nene's old course in March, (2nd) Whittlesey town centre, (3rd) March town centre.

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