Cambridge riverboaters celebrate outcome of moorings consultation

PUBLISHED: 09:39 10 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:45 10 March 2017

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Seven moorings are likely to be installed on Riverside and rates are to be increased by 2 per cent, after a roughly £1000 rise was threatened.

A new River Moorings Policy to guide the management of moorings associated with council land by the River Cam wil be discussed on March 20, following a 12-week consultation.

The discussion will take account of more than 800 contributions made by boat-dwellers, residents and other stakeholders during a 12-week consultation that ran between October and January.

If councillors approve the proposals, up to seven new permanent moorings could be developed at Riverside, subject to necessary consents and permissions.

The council say boat-dwellers and local residents will be involved further in the design and implementation of the new scheme.

Cllr Richard Robertson, executive councillor for finance and resources, said: “The Cam is an important part of our heritage and environment, and it is vital that we have a well-developed and effective policy for managing moorings on the river.

0“We held an open consultation on developing the moorings policy so that we could engage positively with the people living aboard boats, and with other residents and river users, on the options before us.

“We had a sizeable response to our consultation and it was clear that there was support for some of the options we put forward and less support for others.

“We have listened, we have talked to stakeholders and we have developed our proposals accordingly.

“At Riverside we want to work together with boat-dwellers and local residents to develop the design for a scheme that provides moorings and ensures that we meet our duty of care obligations.”

Cllr Robertson added: “We also want to introduce a fairer fees scheme. There is limited space available for safe mooring on the river and we propose to charge fees according to the length of boat instead of giving discounts to boats with only one person living on them.

“I am grateful to everyone who took part in the consultation and I am pleased that we have been able to find workable compromises to meet many of the concerns that were raised.

“As I said at the start of the consultation: 1. we are absolutely committed to listening to people’s views and to working closely with all those directly affected, and 2. we will ensure that all registered boat-dwellers living on Riverside are found moorings there or elsewhere in the city.”

The council would also honour its commitment of working with registered boat-dwellers displaced from Riverside, helping them to relocate to new moorings at Riverside, or to existing moorings elsewhere in the city.

This proposal responds to feedback in the consultation that moorings should still be permitted at Riverside, while also addressing the council’s duty of care and liability for public health and safety.

The location of the proposed new moorings at Riverside relate to the location of existing gates in the railings which were welded shut some years ago due to the fact they were continually being left open, posing a serious health and safety risk of people falling through.

There is no scope for putting in additional gates in the railings to accommodate more than the seven additional mooring spaces proposed, because any significant change to the design of the existing parapet would need to comply with legislation related to the structure, and the costs of this are prohibitive.

The council has developed the new proposed scheme with the support of the county council who own and are responsible for the railings.

The consultation also included the issue of charging for moorings. Some 81.5 per cent of consultees were supportive of the proposal for a modest annual increase in licence fees and this is set to be reflected in the new fee policy based on boat length.

The new charges would seek to reflect the costs to the council of managing moorings, with the aim of the mooring fee income covering service costs and generating a small annual surplus. This would be reinvested in capital improvements to the council’s moorings facilities.

The new mooring fees are proposed to increase by 2 per cent from April 1 this year, and yearly thereafter in line with the retail price index (RPI).

Camboaters, the association representing many of the city’s boating community, say they are celebrating the results from a recent council consultation on river moorings which revealed a majority in favour of suppressing radical changes to mooring policy.

Camboaters chair Jim Ross said: “We are extremely grateful to the public and our neighbours on both land and water for their support. And I’m very proud of Camboaters, who have made such a huge effort to deliver a very professional response to the council which has many findings of significance and useful recommendations for a more positive approach to change.

“We hope all this is recognised in any proposals made by the council and that we can all work together on this.”

Speaking after the publication of the council reports, city councillor Oscar Gillespie, said: “There is evidence in the report that Labour have listened to the boating community and local residents. But only because they have been forced to by the overwhelming response.

“I hope to see Labour use consultations to engage with people in future, instead of trying to coerce people into supporting regressive and antisocial policies.

“Cllr Robertson cannot point the finger elsewhere for emotional distress that the boaters have suffered, this process has been a total mess and apologies are due to all the boaters.”

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