Posted: 20.11.20 at 07:00 by The Editor
Maldon district councillors and officers will meet with Hythe Quay’s sailing barge owners to discuss the possibility of discounting river wharfage fees.
The decision to review the charges for 2021/22 came as it was revealed that some of the barge owners and organisations have lost more than 70 per cent of their expected income for this year due to the pandemic.
Speaking at a meeting of Maldon District Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee yesterday evening (Thursday, 19 November), Independent Councillor Kevin Lagan said: “We really do need to look at this in a more supportive way. These historic barges bring so many people to the town.
“The owners and organisations that look after these barges work incredibly hard to maintain them and it’s incredibly expensive.
“This council has the logo of the barges all over its website and paperwork, but hasn’t supported the barges at all.”
Cllr Lagan made the comments while the committee debated the council’s 2021/22 Fees and Charges Policy. With regard to river wharfage charges the policy states: “Set fees to compete with alternative berthing facilities on the east coast.”
Then in a column marked ‘existing concessions’, the policy reads: “Quarterly charges discount daily fee by 50 per cent. Discounts available to charitable trusts.”
Cllr Lagan said: “The barge owners point out that the facilities are not comparable with other facilities – they do everything for themselves.”
He added that he felt the barge owners and trusts should have a 50 per cent discount on what they currently pay for 2021/22, then review the charges again after that.
However, Steve Butcher, Commercial Manager at the council, reassured Cllr Lagan that the policy did not include the detail of the fees and that this could be arrived at separately – and that officers frequently communicate with the barge owners.
He added: “We do continue to work with them and engage with them.”
The councillors resolved to meet with the barge owners and council officers as part of the work of the council’s Finance Working Group, with a view to discussing the fees in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.