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River Moorings consultation starts this week

By Ben Comber

Boaters on the Cam by Jesus lock, from left Vanessa Neville, Ruthie Collins, Beckee Sharp and Teddy Sharp 3. Picture: Keith Heppell
Boaters on the Cam by Jesus lock, from left Vanessa Neville, Ruthie Collins, Beckee Sharp and Teddy Sharp 3. Picture: Keith Heppell

Riverboat residents protested the city council's proposal to increase the fees paid by boaters moored on the Cam outside the Guildhall last week.

The city council launches a twelve-week consultation on proposals to change the way in which it manages moorings along the River Cam on Thursday, October 27.

The consultation was originally planned to last eight-weeks, one of several changes that have been made since the city council’s original proposition which included the moorings be auctioned annually.

Current changes proposed include basing mooring costs on boat length, and clearing the moored boats along the Riverside railings, which the council say is a health and safety precaution.

Residents of Riverside who moor on the railings raised concerns that the changes would mean they face eviction, and that this would remove a third of the riverboat community. The council have confirmed that no-one on Riverside will lose their home.

Cllr Richard Robertson, Executive Councillor for Finance and Resources, said: “We are consulting on a number of important elements of our moorings policy so we are very keen to hear a wide range of views.

“It’s important that we respond to the growing pressure on the Cam and that we do so in a way that addresses the needs of boaters, residents and other river users wherever we can.

“This consultation is about giving everyone the chance to put forward their opinions in an open and transparent way. We will listen carefully to what people tell us and we will consider every piece of feedback we receive as we move forward to shape our new policies.”

“We have already heard concerns from a number of people who live on boats moored on the river, and have extended our consultation period to twelve weeks at their request.

“We will be working closely with the resident community and their representatives to ensure that we hear their views and support them effectively in dealing with any changes.

“In particular, we have committed to ensuring that if licensed boats are required to move from moorings on the railings, we will ensure that everyone living there is found alternative space to moor. No one will lose their home if it is decided that they need to move. We will also be looking at ways we can assist residents with claiming housing benefit.”

Beckee Sharp lives on the river with her husband and son. They both run their own businesses, and have been living on the Cam near Midsummer Common for the past five years. Her son will be starting school next year.

She said: “I think the way forward is to talk to people and be personal. It’s a consultation at the end of the day, isn’t it? The council have put something forward and if we talk to people we’ll get them supporting us.

“It’s a difficult position that we’re all in at the moment, especially as a family. I just think, are we secure here? The thing they don’t seem to be taking into account is that they have said housing benefit is available, but actually it’s not available to people on low income. On top of the fees that we pay and river tax and the Cam Conservators fee, we have a mortgage on our boat – it could cost us £800-£900 per month to live in a 30ft x 6ft space.”

Council officers said £63,000-£66,000 is generated from the moorings of which £35,000 is used to support revenue costs, and the remainder is returned to the council.


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