IWA Discusses Mooring Sales with CRT21 January 2015
Last year, IWA submitted a response to Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) Mooring Sales Consultation, which was followed up with up with a meeting with CRT in December. This allowed IWA to further discuss its views on CRT’s mooring sales proposals, as outlined below.
CRT has identified the need to change its existing mooring sales process to grow its value through the improvement of systems, the reduction of costs and an increase in occupancy whilst also improving customer service levels. CRT has suggested that cost efficiencies may be secured by rationalising the overall number of mooring sites that CRT manages, which it believes will drive improvements at the rest of the sites within the portfolio. In addition, CRT has acknowledged that the existing mooring sales system is not wholly successful as many moorings fail to let, which the Trust attributed to a combination of factors including pricing, varying demand, processes and publicity.
At the meeting in December, it was agreed that, where possible, CRT must let mooring space at the market rate for the area and that, as CRT operate a much wider range of moorings than other providers, site tariffs should vary in accordance with services provided. The services offered at CRT moorings fall into one of three categories:
- Minimal services, (simple mooring site)
- Average services (site with car park and water point)
- Full services (as above with sanitary station and mains power etc.)
It was suggested that the demand for CRT sites offering full services has or would decrease in areas where new commercial marinas have been established. Despite this, CRT should continue to offer moorings and do more to publicise the availability of its minimal and average serviced sites.
The two issues of low and high demand and occupancy at certain sites was also discussed. CRT proposed that the rationalisation of some sites that were no longer feasible due to low occupancy could produce simple cost savings. Where occupancy levels were low at a number of sites in the same area, boaters could be moved to one site and the other sites closed. IWA suggested that prior to considering such closures, tariffs could be reduced to encourage more boaters to moor there, generating a more positive view of the site that could ultimately attract more boaters and perhaps an improvement in sustainability of demand. CRT indicated that such a policy had been successful in the past.
It was also agreed that CRT’s current auction system did not work at many sites where there was low demand, and that a system that advertises and sells the moorings at a fixed price on a first come first served basis could be more effective.
CRT added that in all cases pricing policy continued to be carefully considered to insure that CRT moorings reflect the appropriate market rate for similar serviced moorings in the area. However, the Trust also said that where moorings have been continually discounted below the guide price to encourage demand, a whole site price reduction would be implemented at the next review. This effectively reduces the market rate in the area for the same level of services.
At the other end of the scale where moorings are in demand and high levels of occupancy do or are expected to occur, CRT suggested this could be utilised to lead to mooring co-operatives. Mooring co-operatives are already being investigated in the London area where CRT hopes to work with appropriate groups to assist them in taking up lease schemes for some offside mooring sites. It was noted that the mooring situation in London was not typical of the rest of the network and that it only indicated how circumstances might develop in other heavily urbanised areas.
Unlike at low demand sites, it was agreed that CRT’s auction system was more effective in areas where demand is known to be high. It was thought that reserve prices should remain unspecified but a 'bids over' guide price could be suggested to aid boaters in the auction process. However, if an auction did not result in a letting then the site vacancy should be advertised at an open 'buy now' price.
Download and read IWA’s response to CRT’s Mooring Sales Consultation (PDF, 242KB).