Well CRT's latest survey of boaters attitudes to sharing future increased licence costs is interesting. Currently, boat licences contribute only 11% of the cost of running the waterways which is probably a much smaller proportion than most boaters think. CRT makes a reasonable case for needing the increase licence fees above inflation over the next few years but what is the fairest way to do it? That's what the survey asks.
Basically there are three approaches with some minor variations within each.
1. Bigger, wider boats pay a greater increase, presumably because they take up more space
2. Those without a home mooring (mainly so called continuous cruisers) pay a higher rate , because they put more strain on the network and don't currently have to bear costs of mooring
3. Everybody shares an equal rise in costs.
I can just imagine all the continuous cruisers being up in arms at option 2, especially those who opt for it as a cheap way of living in an urban area.. A lot of these boaters don't have a lot of cash and many of them (the majority) live aboard because it's cheaper than living on land. On the other hand they do put a significant extra burden on CRT especially in places like London. My past experience as a London CRT volunteer made that very clear.
There are really two types of "continuous cruisers". Those who travel round the system all year, and those who don't want to so only moving short distances back and forth to comply with CRT rules. Should they be lumped together? If not, how could you recognise the difference in licence fees. The survey makes no such distinction. I've said it before, often to CRT that boaters resident in an urban area and not moving much ought to have different licences, reflecting their added burden and also banning them from true 'visitor moorings'. The way urban towpaths have become clogged with boats effectively limits access to genuine visitors from outside.
Nobody likes paying more and whilst I have some sympathy with folk who are hard up and need somewhere cheap to live, I still think that those who cost CRT significantly more in support and wear and tear on infrastructure and facilities and take up continuous bank space should pay more. People who moor on line in proper CRT paid moorings have to bear the cost and we who moor in marinas do too.
What do you think? If you are a boat licence payer, make sure you do the survey.