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Why take it out on Audlem?

10th October 2009 @ 12:12pm – by Dave Martin
Back home  /  News  /  Why take it out on us?

It is clear that British Waterways (BW) are determined to close the Long Term Moorings in Audlem by stealth.

Ultimately there will be no permanently moored boats in Audlem, which will certainly diminish the attractiveness of the village to visitors, especially outside the holiday seasons, with consequential effect on local businesses.

Given that BW own all the properties around the wharf, you might expect them to do all they can to ensure the businesses using them thrive, rather than making the area less attractive!

There appear to be two reasons why BW is behaving this way, and so penalising Audlem:

1. The process to re-let vacant moorings is a pain:
There would have to be a formal auction of the vacant moorings to get a "fair market price". Neither BW operational staff nor boaters like this process, and BW staff in our area have chosen to avoid the system by simply not offering moorings vacancies.

2. BW's 2007 moorings policy is to reduce the number of long term moorings, like those in Audlem:
Amongst other things, the policy commits BW to reducing linear moorings by a ratio of 1:10 for all new marina moorings created. Recently 3 new marinas have opened in the area, with Overwater Marina due to open in 2010.

These total around 1000 new moorings, so BW is committed to closing 100 linear moorings in the area. The 10 moorings at each of the two sites in Audlem are obviously an easy target.

SelectiveHowever, it would seem that BW is selectively using the policy, and making false assumptions, to target Audlem.

Long lines of moored boats (and the Shropshire Union Canal has been likened to a linear boat-park in places) do reduce the enjoyment of boating. Based on a survey of boaters, 15 boats per mooring site was regarded as acceptable. There are at least 15 sites on the canal near us with over 20 moored boats, with some around 50 boats.

So why not target them, rather than sites in Audlem that are a benefit to the community?

BW assume that gradually closing the linear moorings will "encourage" boaters to use the marinas. Not true: marinas provide services and a way of life that do not appeal to many boaters, and at a cost of around treble they pay for BW linear moorings.

People who enjoy the use of a linear mooring, like in Audlem, will not move into a marina.

Why target Audlem?The policy states various other criteria for deciding which moorings to close, which again seem to have been ignored in respect of Audlem:

Local size of linear moorings: There are at least 100 moorings around Market Drayton and Nantwich.

So why target Audlem?

Popularity of the site: Since the "waiting list" system for moorings was abolished, BW have no real way of knowing the demand for moorings. I know of several boaters who would like to fill the vacant moorings, and historically there always was a long waiting list to moor in Audlem. Recently a couple abandonded buying a house in Audlem when they heard of BW's position on mooring in the village.

BW cannot claim Audlem is an unpopular site and should be closed.

Profitability of the site: The maintenance cost of the sites are virtually zero: there has been no one-off expenditure (eg dredging, signage) for many years, so the only ongoing cost is for extending the towpath grass cutting.

So the annual £20,000 BW could get for full moorings is almost all profit. The current vacant moorings are costing BW around £6000 in lost revenue. Strange way to run a business!

Better use of mooring site (eg trip boat) or being a navigational hazard:

Neither apply to Audlem.

InterestAs a boater who moors in Audlem, I have to declare an interest, but as a resident of Audlem I feel strongly we must stand up to BW on this issue. The petition is a good start, but the village (via the Parish Council) needs to formally engage with BW on the issue.

Audlem webteam adds: The petition referred to in the final sentence can be signed in many of Audlem's shops. We also understand that the Parish Council is writing to British Waterways about this issue.

Dave Martin's article first appeared as a news story on 3rd October but has been be re-published as a Homepage feature on AudlemOnline to ensure it has the prominence it deserves.

This article is from our news archive. As a result pictures or videos originally associated with it may have been removed and some of the content may no longer be accurate or relevant.

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