Mooring charges linked to property prices

March 2017 - Peter Underwood looks at the way mooring fees are being increased by the Canal & River Trust – it now seems land-based property prices are being used as an excuse to hike charges.

In the past British Waterways would compare prices amongst marinas and other moorings providers before setting the price on one of its mooring sites.

Even when the controversial auction system was introduced, prices would often fall after the initial three contract as the standard price per metre for that mooring site – rather than a boater's auction bid – would come into effect.

But it now seems an insane property market in the area around your mooring – something that applies in much of London and the South East can send prices soaring for existing C&RT moorers when it comes to renewal time.

In some contrast, the state of the moorings and the problems of boaters attempting to use them don't seem to have any impact on the amounts being demanded by C&RT's Waterside Moorings rent collectors.

The issued surfaced when Oxford boater Jeff Slade's email to Sarah Brown at Canal & River Trust was published on Facebook:

Dear Sarah,

I wrote to you several times last year as I was concerned about the deteriorating condition of the towpath on the Agenda 21 moorings at St.Edwards here in Oxford.

I also drew your attention to a leaking water pipe that, apart from wasting water, was causing a permanent muddy spot near our mooring that endured through the summer months.

Nothing has been done to improve conditions on the towpath and the leaking water pipe remains leaking. This week I received a letter from CART informing me that we are to face a mooring fee increase of 3.7%. The letter states that this increase has been determined through a review of:

Local Property Rental Prices

I have attached some photos for you of the current "condition"

During the wet winter months, the towpath becomes nothing short of a boggy swamp which we have to negotiate in the dark each day on our way to and from work.

Our mooring has become so silted up that we have to keep getting a longer gang-plank as our boat is now moored some distance from the bank which is itself crumbling into the canal.

The mooring rings that were hammered into the bank a few years ago are now all pulling out of the bank and nothing has been done to rectify this.

My work clothes are plastered in mud and I have twice fallen off my bicycle this winter into the mud.

This stretch of towpath is heavily used by runners, walkers, cyclists and those of us who live here and, as such, it should be properly maintained.

It is clearly wrong to impose a 3.7% increase in mooring fees when it is clear the moorings are not in good condition.

I can't imagine that the people renting the expensive properties of North Oxford would be terribly keen on making their way to work in the dark by way of a muddy trench, getting their water from a frozen up outdoor water tap or emptying their toilet each week into a sluice that frequently blocks up, so comparing local property rental prices to our mooring fees is not really realistic.

Can you please pass this message on to whoever is responsible for setting this mooring fee increase.

Can you also tell me when something will be done to put right the issues I have raised here. I had hoped from our previous correspondence that something would have been done by now and before we had to endure another muddy winter.

Regards, Jeff Slade

Despite the existence of British Waterways documents on how moorings prices are set that make absolutely no reference to property prices in the local area C&RT's press office insists: “With regards to Waterside Moorings, there’s nothing new here, we’ve considered the local property market when setting out mooring prices, along with a range of other factors, for some time.”

It's only comment on the horrific conditions endured by Oxford moorers is: “The team is aware of Mr Slade’s email and is looking into it.”

Photo: Gas Street in Birmingham with C&RT's moorings around the Worcester Bar in the distance. Will moorers now be obliged to pay more because Birmingham's property prices are soaring?

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