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Rambling Boater

The future of our canals?

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26 minutes ago, IanD said:

Why would boaters leave the system? Poor people wouldn't pay more, the better-off would pay more but still far less than they'd pay on land (or the value of what they're getting), and should feel a nice glow in their hearts to see how well CaRT has spent the extra money on improving the canal system -- in fact a bter-maintained system might even attract more people to the canals if they're no longer put off by all the tales of woe about blockages/stoppages/running aground/water shortages/lock failures...

 

I have a suspicion that people like you objecting on behalf of others (like those "on the breadline", who I *specifically* said shouldn't pay more) are actually objecting because they don't want to pay more themselves even if they could afford it -- but saying this straight out sounds selfish (because it is), so let's claim it's all about the deserving poor 😉

Your suspicion is in correct.

 

I'm not understanding at all your argument that significantly increasing the licence fee won't drive people off the system, its completely illogical. None liveaboards wont get assistance with the increase for a start.

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6 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

Your suspicion is in correct.

 

I'm not understanding at all your argument that significantly increasing the licence fee won't drive people off the system, its completely illogical. None liveaboards wont get assistance with the increase for a start.

By "non-liveaboards" do you mean people who own/rent a house but also own a boat for holiday/leisure purposes?

 

Why shouldn't people in this situation pay more? The "throw them out of their home" objection doesn't work, they already live in one. They can afford to own and maintain a boat as well as a house and the costs of this are far far higher than the license fee, so if CaRT needs more money to maintain the system they can pay more. If the cost of owning/running a boat goes up a bit, they can either pay up or sell it to somebody who is willing to pay the rate or wants to live on it (who might even be poor). A better maintained canal system will encourage more people to use it and live on it.

 

What's your objection to this strategy?

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23 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

Your suspicion is in correct.

 

I'm not understanding at all your argument that significantly increasing the licence fee won't drive people off the system, its completely illogical. None liveaboards wont get assistance with the increase for a start.

Of course in the initial period significantly increasing the license fee would drive some off the waterways, (isn't the poor state of the system is already doing that?). In the fullness of time market forces would see others return to take their place. Too late for some and the outcry would be loud, but I see where IanD is coming from.

He isn't a boat owner so maybe doesn't fully understand that with the running costs some householders especially those on low pensions struggle to keep a boat and this group are the ones who would suffer most. 

Edited by Midnight

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I have to say, this whole discussion fills me with despair 😞

 

Simply suggesting that since CaRT needs more money for maintenance (anybody disagree?) maybe it would be a good idea if those boaters who can afford it (and have been paying what looks like a very low fee for what they're getting) should pay more towards the cost of the canals -- and that people who can't afford it shouldn't pay more, or even pay less -- has triggered all sorts of spurious objections, many pretending to be worried about other people when the real truth seems to be that people don't want to pay more themselves for what they've been getting too cheaply for years, even though this is partly to blame for the state of the canals.

 

If the end result is a better maintained system which is more attractive to people -- rich or poor -- who want to live on or holiday on it, why are so many people so against this idea? Be honest... 😉

Edited by IanD
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14 minutes ago, Midnight said:

Of course in the initial period significantly increasing the license fee would drive some off the waterways, (isn't the poor state of the system is already doing that?). In the fullness of time market forces would see others return to take their place. Too late for some and the outcry would be loud, but I see where IanD is coming from.

He isn't a boat owner so maybe doesn't fully understand that with the running costs some householders especially those on low pensions struggle to keep a boat and this group are the ones who would suffer most. 

A gradual (and graduated) increase in the fee (say, over 5 years) may drive a few people off, but better maintenance should bring more in, admittedly with a delay. But it's clear that the situation as it stands isn't working, so *something* has to change or it'll just carry on getting worse, with more and more stoppages and complaints about poor maintenance.

 

I do understand your point very well, which is precisely why an increased license fee should be graduated -- those on low pensions or low incomes should pay the same as now or maybe even less, those who can afford it (and are effectively underpaying) should pay more. This objection has now been raised a dozen times in spite of the fact that I've explained a dozen times why it's wrong, so please don't do it again 😉

Edited by IanD
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2 minutes ago, IanD said:

A gradual (and graduated) increase in the fee may drive a few people off, but better maintenance shuld bring more in, admittedly with a delay. But it's clear that the situation as it stands isn't working, so *something* has to change or it'll just carry on getting worse, with more and more stoppages and complaints about poor maintenance.

 

I do understand your point very well, which is precisely why the license fee should be graduated -- those on low pensions or low incomes should pay the same as now or maybe even less, those who can afford it (and are effectively underpaying) should pay more. This objection has now been raised a dozen times in spite of the fact that it's spurious, please don't do it again 😉

Who's objecting?
It's just your idea of a means tested license system is flawed. And no I'm not hiding behind those on low incomes - I would be prepared to pay more for better maintenance.

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1 minute ago, IanD said:

 

Simply suggesting that since CaRT needs more money for maintenance (anybody disagree?) —

The canals could definitely do with more maintenance but just throwing money at an empire like CRT to pay for it isn’t the only answer. As I have already mentioned, we can all play an active part to help in a practical way. Even retired managers and accountants can offer up their time! 
 

Then there is the question as to whether CRT use the money they receive wisely. They are far more expensive to run per mile  than other trusts like ANT even when you take into account the tow path. 
 

I think H&S is a barrier sometimes but volunteers could sign a disclaimer to accept risks, not that there are many risks to doing maintenance. Sometimes I think it’s just used as an excuse to ring fence organisations. There need not be a threat to paid workers either, I’m simply suggesting that volunteers could fill the gap where maintenance is lagging further and further behind risking closure of sections of canal. It will take far more effort to renovate the section once lost.
 

EU directives about dumping silt on the bank don’t help either!

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33 minutes ago, Midnight said:

Who's objecting?
It's just your idea of a means tested license system is flawed. And no I'm not hiding behind those on low incomes - I would be prepared to pay more for better maintenance.

Why is it flawed? Linking taxes/fees to income/wealth works in many other cases, why not this one?

 

Yes a system would need to be devised and put in place to deal with graduated fees, but that's hardly beyond the wit of man, it's far simpler than what HMRC do already.

 

Yes there may be issues with fraud/evasion just like all other tax systems, but this doesn't mean it's not the best solution -- or the least bad one, just like democracy... 😉

Edited by IanD

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57 minutes ago, Rambling Boater said:

The canals could definitely do with more maintenance but just throwing money at an empire like CRT to pay for it isn’t the only answer. As I have already mentioned, we can all play an active part to help in a practical way. Even retired managers and accountants can offer up their time! 
 

Then there is the question as to whether CRT use the money they receive wisely. They are far more expensive to run per mile  than other trusts like ANT even when you take into account the tow path. 
 

I think H&S is a barrier sometimes but volunteers could sign a disclaimer to accept risks, not that there are many risks to doing maintenance. Sometimes I think it’s just used as an excuse to ring fence organisations. There need not be a threat to paid workers either, I’m simply suggesting that volunteers could fill the gap where maintenance is lagging further and further behind risking closure of sections of canal. It will take far more effort to renovate the section once lost.
 

EU directives about dumping silt on the bank don’t help either!

I said earlier that allowing volunteers to do more useful work would be a great idea if the liability issues can be dealt with -- legally it's not that easy for people to sign their H&S rights away, for reasons which should be obvious (unscrupulous exploitative firms).

 

Apart from "throwing money at an empire like CRT", who else could do the essential heavy-duty maintenance work? Volunteers can't build/install lock gates, or do dredging, or do safety-critical work, but they can do lots of other more menial stuff that frees up CaRT staff to do what they can't. One reason this doesn't happen now is there's no incentive; if CaRT pay an outside subcontractor to do maintenance, them using volunteers means they get paid less *and* have to look after them and deal with H&S, so they don't do it.

 

It's quite possible that CaRT could be more cost-effective, a good start would be to bring back skilled in-house teams instead of subcontracting and allowing profits to be creamed off to directors and shareholders. This could also reduce waste on sometimes ludicrous safety precautions done by companies who don't know what they're doing who are ticking generalised boxes, or who aren't aware that there's an easier "canal way" to do something instead of a standardised one. Bringing maintenance back in-house would also allow volunteers to save CaRT money, which doesn't work with subcontractors.

 

If there wasn't an EU directive (which one, or is this a myth?) to stop silt which may be polluted with things like heavy metals and chemicals on the bank, there would very likely have to be an equivalent UK one -- slagging off "elf'n'safety" (or the EU) ignores the fact that it's saved thousands of injuries and lives over the years...

Edited by IanD

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7 minutes ago, IanD said:

Why is it flawed? Linking taxes/fees to income/wealth works in many other cases, why not this one?

Without going into detail - cos I can't be arsed - the cost of verification for a reasonable threshold would outweigh the benefit. Then there's  the cost of enforcement - a lot of boats would suddenly be owned by low income grandparents.

 

Having said that I agree something needs to change or the system will fall into further disrepair. 

 

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1 hour ago, IanD said:

Why is it flawed? Linking taxes/fees to income/wealth works in many other cases, why not this one?

 

Yes a system would need to be devised and put in place to deal with graduated fees, but that's hardly beyond the wit of man, it's far simpler than what HMRC do already.

 

Yes there may be issues with fraud/evasion just like all other tax systems, but this doesn't mean it's not the best solution -- or the least bad one, just like democracy... 😉

The Benefit System does not work, that is why it changes relentlessly, I think the government have some idea that folks can live on a tenner a day. I suggest you stick £70 in your pocket, and leave your home tonight, no plastic.

Edited by LadyG

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38 minutes ago, Midnight said:

Without going into detail - cos I can't be arsed - the cost of verification for a reasonable threshold would outweigh the benefit. Then there's  the cost of enforcement - a lot of boats would suddenly be owned by low income grandparents.

 

Having said that I agree something needs to change or the system will fall into further disrepair. 

 

I assume you mean cost of verification not enforcement? (enforcement is exactly the same as now i.e. have you got a license?) From your POV there's no point ever having any progressive tax system because it will always be fiddled, so the only solution is to charge everyone the same so the poor can't afford it and the rich laugh it off. I can't believe that you think that's a better solution... 😉

 

Verification of income/tax/expenditure is already done by banks, mortgage lenders, HMRC and others -- HMRC is the obvious channel since they already deal with income. It depends on how the numbers are crunched and whose particular pot the money goes in and out of; one option would be to charge everyone the highest fee (money goes direct to CaRT) and then poorer people apply for a rebate through some other channel that's already set up to do this (HMRC?) who then cross-charge this in bulk so CaRT doesn't know who pays what.

 

The other option would be to tell CaRT how much to charge in the first place, but there could be data protection issues with this since they'd have to know about people's financial circumstances -- HMRC already knows about this.

 

None of this is difficult, it's exactly what is already done with other tax reliefs and repayments, and the system is already set up to deal with it. It just needs the will to make it happen -- and the general agreement from boaters that a progressive license system (the rich pay more to keep the system going) is acceptable, not mass protests by people who don't see why they should pay more than they're been used to doing, even though they can afford it and it's necessary.

 

I have a suspicion that "could pay but don't want to" protests from the selfish might derail this... 😞

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2 hours ago, IanD said:

By "non-liveaboards" do you mean people who own/rent a house but also own a boat for holiday/leisure purposes?

 

Why shouldn't people in this situation pay more? The "throw them out of their home" objection doesn't work, they already live in one. They can afford to own and maintain a boat as well as a house and the costs of this are far far higher than the license fee, so if CaRT needs more money to maintain the system they can pay more. If the cost of owning/running a boat goes up a bit, they can either pay up or sell it to somebody who is willing to pay the rate or wants to live on it (who might even be poor). A better maintained canal system will encourage more people to use it and live on it.

 

What's your objection to this strategy?

I haven't suggested that the 'throw them out of their homes' argument applies to leisure boaters. I have said a significantly increased licence fee will affect both sets of boaters right from the start of this thread.

 

My objection is based on stuff I've set out many times, the problem is you just don't agree with it and it's fair enough, you will never convince me that your argument is sound though and clearly I will never convince you of mine so it's not really worth continuing in us trying to do so.

 

 

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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29 minutes ago, LadyG said:

The Benefit System does not work, that is why it changes relentlessly, I think the government have some idea that folks can live on a tenner a day. I suggest you stick £70 and leave your home tonight!

OK, the tax system doesn't work so we should either stop collecting it or make everyone pay the same 'cos it's easier. Same argument for the benefit system, it has problems so let's throw the whole thing in the bin.

 

All very laudable. What would you replace it with?

 

BTW, why is whether the welfare system is broken or not remotely relevant to this discussion? So far objections have included:

 

-- the poor will suffer

-- people will be driven off boats

-- pensioners will suffer

-- the proposed system won't work

-- people will fiddle it

-- it would be impossible to enforce

-- the welfare system is broken

-- the tax system is broken

-- CaRT is broken

-- the government is broken

-- CaRT would just waste the money

-- CaRT don't need more money, volunteers could do it all

-- it's all the EUs fault

-- I blame 'elf'n'safety

-- I blame subcontractors

-- don't give CaRT the idea they might justifiably be able to raise license fees

 

Come on guys, I'm sure if you tried you could come up with more spurious reasons why you personally shouldn't pay more money to keep the canals going, even though you can afford it 😉

Edited by IanD

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3 minutes ago, IanD said:

I have a suspicion that "could pay but don't want to" protests from the selfish might derail this... 😞

There has been a recent case where licence fee is regarded as rent for benefit purposes for liveaboard boaters who are eligible for benefits

 

I would regard myself as being a bit of a progressive lefty but I really can't see any justification for a rebate on licence fees if the boat is not your home

 

Demand is not sufficiently inelastic to allow wopping increases, even phased over a number of years, and anything other than wopping increases isn't going to fix CRT's revenue problem

 

I want lower income groups to have access to waterways, but that is achieved by having many forms of access: boat hire, canoes, walking etc

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I had some idea that PAYE works, as for the rest, I think the government should make sure income/profit generated in the UK should stay here.

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19 minutes ago, magpie patrick said:

There has been a recent case where licence fee is regarded as rent for benefit purposes for liveaboard boaters who are eligible for benefits

 

I would regard myself as being a bit of a progressive lefty but I really can't see any justification for a rebate on licence fees if the boat is not your home

 

Demand is not sufficiently inelastic to allow wopping increases, even phased over a number of years, and anything other than wopping increases isn't going to fix CRT's revenue problem

 

I want lower income groups to have access to waterways, but that is achieved by having many forms of access: boat hire, canoes, walking etc

Cripes, we're in danger of agreeing here !!! 🙂

 

I disagree with your assertion that demand is inelastic; certainly it is for the less well-off (but see your first comment), however there are plenty of people living and holidaying on the canals for whom a big increase would be annoying but they'd pay it -- if you've spent 50k or 100k on a boat (and maybe still have a house) you can damn well pay a bigger license fee to maintain the canals it sits on.

 

Same for hire boats, it would put typical hire cost up by something like 5%-10% which is small enough that it would make very little difference to occupancy rates -- if you can afford to hire a boat for 1000 a week, you can afford to hire it for 1050-1100, and the difference won't make you suddenly decide to fly to Ibiza instead.

 

People in the gap between poor (don't pay) and rich (don't care) would be hit, but to be blunt we've all been underpaying for years so complaining about a rise is a bit rich.

15 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I had some idea that PAYE works, as for the rest, I think the government should make sure income/profit generated in the UK should stay here.

Absolutely, the current scale of tax avoidance and offshoring profits and blind trusts and tax havens is scandalous, and the current government shows little inclination to do anything about this -- possibly because many MPs and their friends are doing it... 😞

Edited by IanD

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8 minutes ago, IanD said:

Having got that general moan off my chest -- what *should* CaRT do about the license fee? 😉 😉 😉

Nothing is the answer because CRT would just use the extra money to invest in building instead of their core business which is navigations. You clearly have never dealt with them my mate does as his Bar is rented from them they are useless, thieving, lying wasteful T*****s I when I converted my boat from diesel to electric had nearly 6 months of hassle before I got the license this is the norm for them! The phone for Tinsley flight has broken and has been for months its not been replaced why? because it means they dont have to fix or allow use of the flight! This stuff is constant they arnt all like my comments but a lot are, now I really have done I asked some boaters about your ideas and they are still rolling around on the floor laughing, my suggestion is buy a boat and then discover how expensive it is before having silly ideas

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12 minutes ago, IanD said:

 

Come on guys, I'm sure if you tried you could come up with more spurious reasons why you personally shouldn't pay more money to keep the canals going 😉

No matter what we say or whether we agree on a issue or not you just keep coming back to the same point.


I've already stated I would be happy to pay more for a better maintained system. My view is CaRT, HMRC the government or any other organisation will not remotely be interested in means testing for a leisure pursuit so any large increase will cause many low income, non-live-a-board boaters to have to sell up. Although it won't affect me I am concerned for those in the autumn of their lives who would be affected.

 

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21 minutes ago, peterboat said:

Nothing is the answer because CRT would just use the extra money to invest in building instead of their core business which is navigations. You clearly have never dealt with them my mate does as his Bar is rented from them they are useless, thieving, lying wasteful T*****s I when I converted my boat from diesel to electric had nearly 6 months of hassle before I got the license this is the norm for them! The phone for Tinsley flight has broken and has been for months its not been replaced why? because it means they dont have to fix or allow use of the flight! This stuff is constant they arnt all like my comments but a lot are, now I really have done I asked some boaters about your ideas and they are still rolling around on the floor laughing, my suggestion is buy a boat and then discover how expensive it is before having silly ideas

I'm perfectly aware how expensive buying and maintaining and running a boat is, I've been thinking about it for years. Don't assume that because I don't live on a boat I'm ignorant about this, or because I'm well off I don't understand the plight of the less well-off, or because I live in London I don't understand Yorkshire (go on, guess where I'm from...)

 

So your proposal is basically, CaRT are rubbish, let's just give up and watch the canals fall into ruin? I thought you loved the canals?

Edited by IanD

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33 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I had some idea that PAYE works, as for the rest, I think the government should make sure income/profit generated in the UK should stay here.

Why should profit stay here?

 

The last time this country was 'Great', according to those who hark back to such times, it was built on large profits made out of other countries and exported back here.

 

If you meant to say 'tax' on profits, then I'd go a long way to agree with you - but, alas, HMRC have found it extremely hard to define profit such that the tax stays here.

 

The concept of 'here' also makes it hard to substantiate your view in the age of the internet - just where is it?

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19 minutes ago, Midnight said:

No matter what we say or whether we agree on a issue or not you just keep coming back to the same point.


I've already stated I would be happy to pay more for a better maintained system. My view is CaRT, HMRC the government or any other organisation will not remotely be interested in means testing for a leisure pursuit so any large increase will cause many low income, non-live-a-board boaters to have to sell up. Although it won't affect me I am concerned for those in the autumn of their lives who would be affected.

 

Which is exactly why a flat-rate increase is unfair and won't work.

 

Like peterboat, your position seems to be that neither CaRT or the government want to do anything to fix this, so we should just all throw our hands up in despair and stop trying to find things that might help?

 

I despair about some people -- moan moan moan about problems, then shoot down in flames any suggestions that might try and help fix them. It's almost like some people love moaning more than they love the canals... 😉

 

Given that attitude, the future of the canals is clearly bright -- not... 😞

 

Giving up on this now, fed up of banging my head against a moaning brick wall. Good luck to everyone who blames CaRT (or whoever) for everything wrong with the canals, it's obviously not your fault for not paying enough to keep them working...

Edited by IanD

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15 minutes ago, IanD said:

Which is exactly why a flat-rate increase is unfair and won't work.

Neither will a means tested increase

15 minutes ago, IanD said:

 

I despair about some people -- moan moan moan about problems, then shoot down in flames any suggestions that might try and help fix them. It's almost like some people love moaning more than they love the canals... 😉

 

No one here has shot down any sensible suggestion
 

18 minutes ago, IanD said:

Giving up on this now, fed up of banging my head against a moaning brick wall. Good luck to everyone who blames CaRT (or whoever) for everything wrong with the canals, it's obviously not your fault for not paying enough to keep them working...

Yawn!

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2 hours ago, IanD said:

I said earlier that allowing volunteers to do more useful work would be a great idea if the liability issues can be dealt with -- legally it's not that easy for people to sign their H&S rights away, for reasons which should be obvious (unscrupulous exploitative firms).

 

Apart from "throwing money at an empire like CRT", who else could do the essential heavy-duty maintenance work? Volunteers can't build/install lock gates, or do dredging, or do safety-critical work, but they can do lots of other more menial stuff that frees up CaRT staff to do what they can't. One reason this doesn't happen now is there's no incentive; if CaRT pay an outside subcontractor to do maintenance, them using volunteers means they get paid less *and* have to look after them and deal with H&S, so they don't do it.

 

It's quite possible that CaRT could be more cost-effective, a good start would be to bring back skilled in-house teams instead of subcontracting and allowing profits to be creamed off to directors and shareholders. This could also reduce waste on sometimes ludicrous safety precautions done by companies who don't know what they're doing who are ticking generalised boxes, or who aren't aware that there's an easier "canal way" to do something instead of a standardised one. Bringing maintenance back in-house would also allow volunteers to save CaRT money, which doesn't work with subcontractors.

 

If there wasn't an EU directive (which one, or is this a myth?) to stop silt which may be polluted with things like heavy metals and chemicals on the bank, there would very likely have to be an equivalent UK one -- slagging off "elf'n'safety" (or the EU) ignores the fact that it's saved thousands of injuries and lives over the years...

I think the problem with my thoughts on this is that it goes against the system which gets more and more nanny state each year.  The current 'crisis' has also probably sped that up.

 

We're all doomed I tell you. ;)

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, IanD said:

The difference is that if the state pays for the canals directly everyone gets a "free ride" (pays far less than the cost), including those who aren't on the breadline (who don't deserve/need it), and everyone else in the country pays for them to enjoy themselves on the canals -- which many people would justifiably object to.

 

What's your real objection to a graduated (with income/wealth) license fee, which is what I'm proposing? It works in most other walks of life and would be seen as fair...

Differential licence pricing  was put forward by British Waterways back in 2006 following a ruling by the waterways ombudsman that shared ownership boats were being treated unfairly being charged almost 2.5 times the fee paid by other private boaters.

 

The consultation failed to gain boater support and so the idea was not implemented.


I suggest you read up on the many consultations that have taken place over the last 20 years.

 

 

 

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