60% of boaters rejected Continuous Cruiser surcharge

Published: Wednesday, 03 January 2024

A FREEDOM of Information request has revealed that 60% of boaters who took part in the recent boat licence consultation rejected the option to surcharge boats without a home mooring, also known as Continuous Cruisers.

And more than three quarters rejected the two options to increase the existing surcharge for wide beam boats.

Allan Richards wonders why CaRT chair, David Orr, has attempted to suppress a full disclosure regarding the board's decision to implement licencing surcharges.

Licence fee rises

Between April 2022 and April 2023, Canal & River Trust increased licence fees by 13% with it warning of above CPI increases for the next ten years.

In 2024, boaters will suffer the first of the above inflation increases. This will be 6%—4.5% CPI plus an above inflation increase of 1.5%.

However, following the 2023 boat licence fee consultation, those without home moorings and/or wider boats will be surcharged at between 25% and 75% on top of these yearly increases.

Consultation options

In July 2023, Richard Parry, Chief Executive and Julie Sharman, Chief Operating Officer produced a Decision Report for CaRT’s Board of Trustees. Its purpose was to update the Board on the outcome of a consultation inviting boaters to accept or reject surcharging options for boat licence fee pricing together with recommendations for Board approval.

The Board was told that the options boaters were asked to consider, in a consultation carried out by DJS Research, were as follows:

Option A—Status quo, all licence fees to rise together at the same rate

Option BHigher increase for CC licences than for those with a home mooring

Option CMove to Area Based Charging (Boat length x Boat width)

Option DRetain current length-based charges and increase surcharges for wide beam craft from the current (‘medium’ width +10%: full wide-beam add 20%).

Proposals rejected by boaters

One would have thought that the majority of boaters would have supported CaRT’s proposals. However, this was not the case.

Paragraph 2.5 of the Decision Report reads:

The Consultation yielded the respondents’ preferences for each option compared to the status quo (option A) as follows:

Percentage of all boaters choosing option B over option A40%

Percentage of all boaters choosing option C over option A 20%

Percentage of all boaters choosing option D over option A24%

For any doubters, the following is a screenshot of that part of the Decision Report:


Fairly obviously, by simple majority, boaters did not support surcharging.....so why has CaRT adopted options B and D rather than option A?

Orr withholds information

CaRT’s Chair, David Orr, must take responsibility for the trust’s poor financial performance and its failure to convince government that it needs to step in and provide more funding to make up the shortfall.

It now seems that he must also take responsibility for withholding information related to this consultation.

Orr has decided to refuse to provide most of the information requested in a Freedom of Information Request. This includes a 'Full Report' from consultants DJS Research that was appended to the Decision Report (a DJS 'Summary Report' made public makes no mention of boaters rejecting CaRT’s proposals!).

Orr's opinion is that information should be withheld under Section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act as 'Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs'.

Could it be that the 'Full Report” suggests that no case exists for surcharging?


C. MarshallFreedom of Information Request

National consultationBoat licence review

Information Commissioners Guidance on Freedom of Information Act Section 36
(David Orr is the CaRT 'qualified person' under Section 36).