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Boatowners Argue Mooring Fee Increases Will Have Counter Effect

Testing the seabed in the pool at St Peter Port harbour.

The GBA says its calculations show well above inflation increases will see boat owners selling their vessels, leading to a significant drop in revenue for the States.

The Guernsey Boatowners Association (GBA) president Nick Guillmette says the Ports accounts show mooring fees bring in more than £3M each year, of which £1M is profit.

But he warns that increasing fees by between 50%-90% over the coming years will hit small boat owners so hard that many may sell their vessels. He says this will have the opposite effect the States Trading Supervisory Board intended, and revenue will fall as fewer mooring spaces are rented out.

He says many boat owners aren't wealthy and can't afford the proposed sharp increases, but he says they are willing to pay a little more:

"We're quite happy to pay 7.3% inflationary costs. But to suddenly come in, and we're a captive audience, there are 1,350 boat owners, where else can they put their boats? So it's an abuse of that situation as well."

STSB president Peter Roffey warned States members and anyone using the ports that fees would have to go up to cover ongoing losses. The MD at Guernsey Ports is Colin Le Ray: 

“Given the current pressure on States finances, it was felt important to make significant inroads in reducing Guernsey Ports’ reliance on general revenue from next year. The review has identified where there is scope for raising additional revenue now, and focusing on user charges means the greatest contribution in terms of income will be from those islanders who benefit most from the facilities we provide.”

Nick Guillmette says boat owners more than pay for the services they use. He says the deficit comes from the airport, but is difficult to work out as the accounts are now combined:

"There have been many, many millions of pounds which were going into the harbours accounts for reserves on spending on infrastructure repairs and new investments. But that money got used for the airport, and consequently, the harbours have never really recovered."

Mr Guillmette paints a bleak picture:

"Not only will they destroy the achievements of our predecessors and 50 years of investment in the local marine industry but also marine traders will lay off workers, youngsters will not be encouraged to enter the industry as apprentices, and there will be 300-400 very disgruntled."

He says investment is the best way to turn around finances:

"Be pro-active instead of reactive, borrow the necessary funds and get on with developing the Pool Marina Project which will not only dramatically increase harbour revenues by £8-10 million pounds per annum but also place Guernsey back on the map as the premier destination for visiting yachtsmen which is where we were 40 years ago."

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