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Boat Blog: BWML marina fees – ouch!

Posted by indigodream on 6 February, 2012

Thursday 26th January

This evening we went to an interesting Limehouse Basin berth-holders meeting regarding fees and other developments around the marina. We’ve not attended before – partly because we don’t live aboard to get the gossip, but mainly because we’ve dropped off the email list somehow and haven’t been getting the notifications.

We found out about this meeting from one of our neighbours at Limehouse who was agitated about the proposed changes to the fees…..

So we went along to the meeting without prior knowledge of the process or proposals that had led the berth-holders here. The meeting was attended by Robyn, the marina manager, and by her boss who we think is Darren Bramhall. Robyn was given the unenviable task of making a presentation, but the real power in the room was her boss – a true ‘politician’ in every sense of the word apart from the fact that he hadn’t been elected!

Within minutes we understood why our neighbours were so upset. Mooring at Limehouse is not a cheap option – we never expected it to be – nonetheless the 8% rise in our mooring fees was a blow, the unconvincing justification being that it was “market rate” . But the rise in the Grade 1 and Grade 1 residential (call it Grade1R) were staggering – from now on, new moorers who wish to call Limehouse home (Grade 1R) will pay a flat fee of £9000 pa regardless of length – existing moorers who fall into this category will pay their normal ‘per metre’ fee plus a surcharge of £1,500, with a view to their moving to the new flat fee sometime in the future – NB does not apply to us as we are grade 2. There also seems to be nasty sting that people on 3 year fixed fee moorings will be hit with this extra £1500 charge, and yes that is despite being on a 3 year fixed deal. The marina has been given a target of achieving a minimum of 22 Grade 1R moorings (the most lucrative) – prompting fears that some residents would be moved out to make room for them. Finally, we had been under the impression that these changes had been prompted by the local council, who wanted residential berths to have full planning permission – but in actual fact, the changes were initiated by BWML – this was news to most of the residents attending.

Now we had several thoughts – yes, we, and others, have elected to moor in this desirable location, so it’s our choice whether to stay. Nonetheless, these above-inflation rises seem staggering. Of course, we can’t expect the CRT to live without money, so the uplift in BWML fees should contribute to the new charity’s work – but Darren gave the impression that very little of the money would go to CRT. . . .

There were other changes proposed, including the building of additional commercial pontoons around the basin – there was a blatant admission that this was making the best of the money-making opportunities presented by the Olympics. Residents were concerned about noise from late-running trip boats and we were concerned about the potential loss of the ‘waiting’ space outside Limehouse Lock – apparently boats waiting for the lock will have priority over commercial operations but I can’t see that working in practice. Finally some of the new pontoons will need to be accessed via the berth holders security gate – there was concern that members of the public might end up having access to the pontoon from trip boats, but we were assured that it would be boat crews only.  Of more concern was that the new pontoons would reduce the ‘turning circle’ available to narrowboats on one pontoon (behind us) and there will need to be a major reshuffle of berths.

We’re still thinking about the meeting and its consequences – we’re a Grade 2 mooring (non-residential – we can spend a maximum of 4 nights/week on board), so many of the changes don’t affect us too badly – well, once we’d got some reassurance that we wouldn’t be evicted in favour of a Grade 1R when our contract comes up for renewal in April!

It seems obvious that BWML is becoming more cut-throat commercial – this may be reflection of hard times – though I hope that this apparent profiteering substantially benefits the CRT. I am very afraid that if BWML imposes onerous rises in mooring fees and associated bureaucracy then more boaters will be tempted to join the already substantial fleet of continuous moorers in London. This would be an unwelcome development and pass on an even bigger enforcement problem to the fledgling CRT…..

We have stayed in a few marinas and Limehouse stands out as being really friendly, don’t get this wrong we love our cruising but it is always a real pleasure bringing the boat home. There are a few other marinas which we liked in particular the Thames & Kennet Marina in Reading and Kings Marina in Newark, but some have had a terrible atmosphere or been simply weird.  So in our count we have two BWML marinas which we think are excellent and two which we think are terrible / weird, we hope that BWML’s weasel policies don’t ruin the great atmosphere in their successful marinas.

Note: We visited the boat – everything was fine and the new electric heater was working well. We were a bit alarmed by the power consumption so we’ll just need to make sure that we have enough credits.

3 Responses to “Boat Blog: BWML marina fees – ouch!”

  1. Roger Smith said

    Perhaps you could add one of these or use instead of the timer.

    Timeguard Electronic Plug in Thermostat with Battery Backup

  2. Head north, young woman, plenty of room for you in Mercia, and it’s *amazingly* hound friendly! You’ll save more on fees than you spend on fuel getting here…

    All the best

    Bruce

  3. indigodream said

    “young woman” – well, Bruce, if I lose years as well as fees by moving north I’m on my way 🙂

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