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Harbour fees to be frozen to attract more vessels
HARBOUR charges are set to be frozen in a bid to encourage more visiting vessels.
Councillors at a meeting of the Weymouth and Portland management committee approved plans to keep the fees at the same rate as currently charged for the financial year 2014/15 for visiting yachts, boats and permanent berth holders.
Fees have been increased by at least the rate of inflation for a number of years.
It comes as the cost of Poole Harbour fees have been cut by 45 per cent to attract more visitors.
The decrease applies to short term dues and weekly charges.
Councillor Andy Blackwood said: “It seems we have got locked into this mentality which I understand and which in the past I have supported, which is to maintain the fees as high as is justifiable.”
A report to the committee states the number of visiting vessels is continuing to slowly decline, and that there is competition from Portland Marina, which offers easy access and parking.
The number of vacant berths in the inner part of Weymouth Harbour remains steady, and has an occupancy rate of just under 80 per cent.
Officers told the management committee that this is similar to other marinas in the region.
The scale of charges for 2014/15 was referred to the management committee for approval after being discussed at the Harbour Management Board in November.
The report includes plans to reduce winter fees for visiting yachts, remove an additional 20 per cent charge for vessels of 20m and over and introduce mandatory port waste charges.
A loyalty scheme for repeat visitors will also be introduced.
Chairing the meeting, Coun Peter Chapman said: “Historically Weymouth was always perceived as a cheaper place. The problem with empty moorings is due to the economic downturn and the loss of discounted duty on green diesel.”
Coun Christine James said she would like owners of smaller rowing boats to be encouraged to berth in the harbour.
THE plans do not include fees and charges for Condor or other ferry services, which are covered by a separate operating agreement.
Condor is Weymouth port’s biggest operator and brings more than £7million to the local economy every year.
The ferry firm is set to sign a 15-year agreement with the Channel Islands, using Weymouth as its main route.
The contract is also linked to the purchase of a new vessel.
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