Scottish Canals publishes response to boating price consultation

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Scottish Canals has published its response to a public consultation setting out a long-term plan for establishing fair pricing for living and travelling on Scotland’s inland waterways.

Following a comprehensive consultation and independent review into the pricing strategy for moorings and licences on Scotland’s canals, no boater will pay more than an extra £100 per year – less than £2 per week – plus inflation.

Scottish Canals commissioned this consultation in October 2015 as a direct response to customer feedback. It followed increases in moorings and licence prices which took place in April 2015 as part of a wider drive to charge fair and reasonable rates for the services the organisation provides.

Consultants Gerald Eve and Bilfinger GVA engaged with British Marine and the Royal Yachting Association of Scotland to publish their pricing review in July 2016. A week later, Scottish Canals launched a consultation into how Gerald Eve/GVA’s recommendations should be implemented. This consultation attracted 88 responses from 78 individuals and organisations, representing 17 per cent of Scottish Canals’ mooring customers and three per cent of all boating customers.

Following a detailed analysis of all the responses, Scottish Canals’ board has agreed:

  • Gerald Eve/GVA’s methodology is robust, independent and reasonable and therefore will be adopted, along with their recommended prices;
  • The annual inflationary uplift will be set in line with the consumer price index (CPI), calculated monthly and averaged over the last financial year;
  • All price increases less than £100 per year will be implemented in full, plus CPI;
  • All price increases greater than £101 will be phased in so that no customer pays more than an extra £100 per year, plus CPI;
  • Customers can pay their moorings fees in full at the outset or by monthly instalments but the cost will remain the same, however they choose to pay.
  • Navigation charges will remain at 2015 prices, subject to an annual CPI uplift;
  • Transit charges will remain the same on the Caledonian and Crinan Canals, but drop by 25 per cent on the lowlands canals as a way of stimulating boat movements;
  • Registered charities that are not acting commercially will benefit from a 25 per cent reduction in transit charges;
  • Subject to contractual renewal dates, all price changes will come into effect from June 1, 2017, and April 1 each year thereafter;
  • Any customer facing a reduction in their mooring fees will see their prices reduced from June 1, 2017, regardless of when their contract is due for renewal.

Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Canals, said: ‘As a public body, it’s right that we adopt a fair and reasonable approach to pricing. With amenities and customer demand varying between locations and waterways, price inconsistencies over charges have emerged over the years leaving some boaters paying significantly less or more than their neighbours.

‘We have listened to customers and today are committing to addressing these anomalies but limiting the increase to no more than an extra £100 per year.’

He added: ‘This is a complex issue and one which all canal authorities are wrestling with. However, we believe we now have in place a fair, transparent and consistent approach to pricing which benefits all boaters. I’d like to thank all of our boating customers for their feedback and understanding during the review process.’

Their subsequent report proposed a methodology for setting the market price of all residential and leisure moorings and licences on Scotland’s canals, as well as a clear plan for implementing future price changes.

Individuals and organisations who use, live or work on the nation’s waterways were invited to help decide how these recommendations should be implemented and over what timescale as part of a formal consultation process.

Scotland’s canals attract 22 million visits per year from walkers, cyclists, anglers, paddlers, residents and boaters. All income generated from the products and services Scottish Canals provide is reinvested in safeguarding the 250-year-old heritage assets for future generations to enjoy.

Full details of the review, consultation, and Scottish Canals’ response can be found at www.scottishcanals.co.uk/corporate/meetings-consultations/pricing-consultation-review.