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Middle Level

I know boat owners on the Middle Level have been unhappy at the scale of the price increase that Middle Level Commissioners set for their boat licences. I agree and have raised these concerns with the Chief Executive of the Middle Level and other bodies involved in its operation. Whilst I accept a charge is necessary in order to invest in the waterways given the original legislation was based on a previous era when waterways were not used for leisure, and that the MLC has plans for improvements including dredging, replacement moorings, refurbishment, as well as a full-time Navigation Officer, the pace of change proposed was unreasonable. This is particularly so given the wider economic pressure from the pandemic. Originally, the Middle Level Commission had planned for a 25% discount in the first year, which was increased to 50% due to Covid-19. They have now announced a 25% discount for 2021/22 licences for those applying before 31st December 2020 and extended the requirement for boats to be licenced to the same date before enforcement action is considered. Those who have already applied for licences will automatically receive the discount. I know this does not go as far as many would like, but at least it reflects some improvement following my letter on the previous position. It is important that the Middle Level Commission demonstrate value for money by now delivering the promised investment schemes that this revenue provides, and I hope they will work closely with boaters in the months ahead.

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