Navigation charges set for 2022/23

Tolls will increase by 3.6% next year to cover increasing costs of maintenance and improvements to the waterways and to fund a replacement online customer-focussed toll-payment system.

Last year’s expenditure

As well as ongoing maintenance, the income from last year’s tolls funded increased resource for public safety on the water by using National Park Grant Reserves to fund more patrolling and to produce online safety videos for visitors. Without the contribution from National Park Reserves the level of tolls required would have been 7% rather than the 4% implemented. This investment appears to have paid off and there have been very few serious incidents on the water this year.

Next financial year (2022/2023)

For the upcoming financial year, the Navigation Committee (October 2021) considered the following issues and navigation expenditures.

1. Our income this year has been above that predicted because the number of hire boats did not decline as much as had been expected and there was an increase in the number of private craft, particularly paddle boards.

2. However, inflation is having a big impact on the Authority’s costs with the price of raw materials such as steel, wood and aggregate rising fast. Also, the increase in the Employers’ National Insurance contribution is rising to fund health and social care costs. The Committee unanimously agreed to recommend an increase of 3.6%, which was accepted at the Broads Authority Committee meeting on the 19 November.

3. The forecast income for the end of this financial year is a surplus of £189,000. This provides the Authority with a real opportunity to plan for the future and the long-term requirements for maintaining the waterways. The surplus will contribute to the development of a new online tolls system, as well as reduce the impact that the rising cost of materials will have on next year's finances.

The current IT computer software for toll payments needs replacing and updating to meet the expectations of toll payers. Customers have told us they want to be able to register and toll their new craft online so they can access the waterways immediately. A new system will be developed over the next few years to cater for this. The first step is to develop a clear specification for a new system that works better for our customers.

4. Finally, a Hire Boat Licensing Officer is employed for 1 day per week to carry out hire-boat licensing inspections, audits, visit and advise new businesses as well as dealing with hire boat licensing, BAPS inspections, enquiries and complaints. The Committee voted to increase the Licensing Officer role from 1 to 3 days and the Hire Boat License costs will be increased to fund this.

Tuesday 7 December 2021