Houseboat residents and boat owners in South Dock Marina have expressed their anger and worry over an “outrageous” hike in mooring fees.
The 23% rise may force some residents already struggling with the high cost of boat life to leave the Rotherhithe dock.
Allen Atwell, chair of the South Dock Marina Berth Holders Association, said: “It’s a big chunk of money and we get the impression that this rise is being rushed through.
“A number of residents who have been here for decades are being forced out. One woman is really quite emotional about it, she’s been here for 25 and will have to leave her home. But due to the rising fees it is making it even harder for to sell boats – it’s a real ‘Catch 22’.”
Boat owners say that they understand that mooring fees do go up, just like housing rents do on land, but argue that the rise is simply a way to exploit boat owners, who may be seen as living a cheap lifestyle.
Allen said: “It is a diverse community here – we have teachers, policemen, doctors, families and OAPs. We’re not rolling in money. We have mooring fees, council tax and also need to pay for the upkeep of the boats, which is considerable.”
Residents also claim that there has been a lack of “clarity” from the council with regards to the rise, with residents left in the dark over whether the 23% hike will be immediate or spread over a period of time.
Allen said: “We want to put a freeze on the whole thing until we can discuss it properly – because at the moment it seems that the council want to push this through and then discuss future rises with us.”
Councillor Darren Merrill, Southwark Cabinet member for environment and public realm, blamed “yet more government cuts” for the rise.
He said: “South Dock Marina have had their fees and charges frozen for three years, but we now need to make changes. We have checked these against other marinas providing similar services and our charges are still competitively priced.
“We’ve listened to berth holders and so are phasing charges in over a four year period to give berth holders time to budget for the future. We’ve also reduced the monthly licence charges, so berth holders who cannot pay yearly, will have a reduction over the first two years.
“Our on-going investment programme means that the marina is kept at the highest standard. We have spent over £650k in improvements so far, with an additional £1m investment planned in the next two years.”