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Bridgewater permits and licenses

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Another interesting facet of charging history, which I had overlooked – the 2012 Order will have overturned the liberty granted under s.52 of the 1962 Transport Act to charge whatever they liked! From 2012 the charges must be reasonable. That turns the clock back to the same situation as obtained with the British Transport Commission back in the fifties.

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On 07/10/2017 at 12:21, Richard10002 said:

 Why won't it lead to a rush onto the canal? If it's free, compared to the adjacent CaRT canals.....

Just to put things in perspective: ever since pleasure boats were specifically allowed onto the canal in 1766, they could not, as a practical matter, enter or exit the canal without the Company’s consent. No charges were allowed for, it was simply a matter of whether [I suppose] letting them through locks would have interfered with the commercial traffic or not.

 In 1794 the pleasure boats could be let through the locks either by consent of the company, or by paying a fixed toll. So they were only really free to navigate in lock-free sections, unless they were prepared to pay tolls.

 In 1885 it was confirmed that riparian owners could build their mooring facilities, which were exempt from charges. The 1894 Act confirmed free mooring at private facilities, and allowed free overnight mooring only, on towpath or company facilities.

 Obviously, any pleasure boat could be chargeable if staying beyond the single night, so charges were payable for any pleasure boat off their private mooring if navigating the canal with more than overnight stays.

 The charges for entering and exiting the canal were confirmed at a fixed level for any class of vessel by the 1960 Act, which the Transport Act 1962 affected by lifting the ceiling restriction [which was yet later, in the 2012 Order, constrained by the need to be reasonable]. If they entered Runcorn Docks, they would be liable to charges to remain there, and for any berthing charges.

 So it never was, let alone now is, the free-for-all that has been feared, should freedom from resident pleasure boat licences be acknowledged. Nobody can enter from another waterway and traverse the canal without payment, nobody – resident boater or ‘foreigner’ - can moor for longer than overnight without liability for payment &/or consent [unless on private moorings]. In the event of any breach of these restrictions, the boater is liable to drastic measures the company can employ should they wish.

 No doubt, if, as my present state of knowledge suggests is the case and ‘resident’ pleasure boats need no licence from the company, people might get excited by the idea of the Bridgewater as a free haven, but they would be egregiously incorrect. Even the ‘resident’ boats would face legitimate charges if and whenever they wanted to move off from their moorings, and there are a finite number of those.

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I think we owe a debt of gratitude to Nigel for adding some clarity to the BC situation. None more so than Peel who probably have been following this and similar discussions and now know more than their own legal eagles could decipher.

Perhaps not the outcome we wanted but at least we all now know the situation. I will continue to use the BC as a through route but will plan return trips to avoid charges.

I also applaud Gigoguy for his challenge and others who have contributed useful information to this thread.

  • Greenie 1

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