Price rises in bid to create pontoons
BOAT owners face a price hike in plans to create pontoons in Torquay's inner harbour.
The harbour authority is planning to spend £800,000 to replace 173 chain moorings with pontoon berths linked to the shore by a bridge on to Victoria Parade.
Harbour master Kevin Mowat said it will boost user numbers and provide an improved service to existing boaters
He said: "The chain moorings are at the end of their working life.
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"We don't want to live in the past and what people expect in the 21st century is pontoon moorings."
The change will mean an increased yearly charge from £91.07 per metre to £129.95 per metre.
Mr Mowat said the charges could be phased in over three years.
Most boats that use the berths are between six and 10 metres-long.
The cash will help pay back the prudential borrowing needed to fund the project but could result in an income of £569,562 when the loan is repaid in 20 years' time.
Mr Mowat said the new berths are expected to be more popular and increase capacity. Capacity is currently at 52 per cent.
He said: "We would need to drive the usage up to 70 or 80 per cent."
The plans have been approved by Torbay harbour committee.
Members were told of a disagreement that could arise with Torquay marina operators Marina Developments Ltd.
As part of the lease, the council at first thought it was obliged to consult with the firm if it wished to construct a new 'marina'.
But after taking legal advice, it no longer believes the obligation is legally binding.
Mr Mowat said he had contacted MDL as a matter of courtesy.
Mayor Gordon Oliver, vice chairman of the harbour committee, said pontoon berths had formed part of negotiations with the developer interested in creating a luxury hotel on the marina car park.
He said: "That developer may want some provision in the inner harbour for use by the hotel.
"I don't want to tie my hands in case it is part of the scheme but it may be something to consider in the design."
The committee was told work would not begin until the winter 2013/14.
Vic Ellery, committee chairman, said: "I want to bring this forward to maximise the assets we have.
"Capacity is so low because we are not providing what people want but if we provide what people want, then the harbour will fill up."