Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Restructuring of Navigation Charges (Tolls)

Seven Broads Authority Members have formed a group which has been given the task of reviewing the current structure of the navigation charges (tolls) paid by boat owners using the Broads. This group has developed a structure by way of a new set of Guiding Principles to enable decisions on tolls to be made.

In these “Revised Draft Guiding Principles”, dated June 2016, the following is the first point:

Revised Draft Guiding Principles

1.   Navigation charges should generate sufficient income to maintain the
navigation area for the purposes of navigation to such standard as appears
to the Authority to be reasonably required and to take such steps to improve and develop the navigation area as the Authority thinks fit (Section 10 of the Broads Act 1988). [‘STATUTORY RESPONSIBILITY’]

However, nothing can be found in Section 10 of the Broads Act 1988 which says that the statutory responsibilities have to be paid for by toll charges only.  The relevant wording in Section 10 of the Act states:

10 Functions of Authority and others in relation to the navigation area.

(1) The Authority shall—

(a) maintain the navigation area for the purposes of navigation to such standard as appears to it to be reasonably required; and

(b) take such steps to improve and develop it as it thinks fit.

These seem to be the statutory requirements to which the Report is referring.

It appears that the wording in the Revised Draft Guiding Principles is written in a way which would lead the Committee to believe that the Broads Act states that navigation maintenance and improvements etc can only be paid for by toll charges.  This interpretation cannot be found anywhere in the section of the Act quoted.

Navigation income may only be spent on the navigation, not that the total spent on navigation be equal only to what the tolls produce.  The authority must spend whatever money it needs to maintain the navigation. 

Is the wording in the Guiding Principles deliberately misleading, rather than conveying the reality that tolls income can only be used for navigation purposes?  A distinct difference!

Using this premise, if any particular maintenance or improvements are required, the authority will be able to state that navigation charges will have to be increased to pay for this work or the threat of stopping dredging in other areas will be made, as there is no money available.

1 comment:

  1. You appear to have overlooked Section 13 of the Act., which says:

    "13.—( 1) The Authority shall so manage its affairs that, taking one year with another, the charges which it makes—
    (a) in the discharge of its functions under Part II of this Act; and
    (b) under section 26 of the Harbours Act 1964 (ship, passenger and goods dues);

    are, when taken together, at least equal to the expenses which, after allowing for any other income attributable to its functions under Part II of this Act or accruing to it in respect of moorings, it incurs in the discharge of those functions.

    (2) Expenditure—
    (a) not properly attributable to its revenue account; or
    (b) incurred by the Authority wholly or mainly in connection with conserving the natural beauty of any area; shall not be taken into account for the purposes of subsection (1) above."

    I take that to mean that the navigation charges MUST be sufficient to pay for the maintenance of the navigation as required under Part ll.

    There will be, and have been, additional works undertaken which do not fall within the Part ll functions, for which external funding is, and has been, available. Hickling and Salhouse Spit are two that spring to mind.

    What I would take issue with, if your reporting of the wording of the first Revised Draft Guiding Principle is accurate, is that it reads as if the wording is a direct quote from Section 10, which it isn't. In that respect, I agree that it is misleading.