Boat dwellers to pay council tax

Galgate Marina
Galgate Marina
1
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Narrowboats moored at Galgate Marina could be designated as “full residential’ – forcing their owners to pay council tax.

An application submitted by British Waterways Marinas Limited (BWML) to Lancaster City Council will see 20 per cent of the marina’s moorings – 19 existing Grade 1 moorings, plus another five moorings – classed as full residential if it is approved.

A new cycle shelter would also be provided as part of the plan, which would contain at least 24 spaces.

In a supporting statement, BWML says it is working with councils across the UK to re-classify some of its residential berths because of increasing demand for full time residential occupation.

Grade 1 moorings entitle boat owners to use their vessel and mooring 365 days a year, but they cannot live on the boat full-time and do not have an electoral postal address entitling them to vote.

One boat owner at the marina, who would be affected by the proposal, but did not wish to be named, said he was already effectively a full-time resident.

“BWML has realised it needs to formalise the whole thing and this would legitimise our presence,” he said.

“Historically, the council tax issue has been fudged; some people say we effectively pay through our mooring fees and to a certain extent we do.

“The marina provides basic amenities like waste disposal, toilets and a launderette and it pays business rates.

“But the situation needs to be properly formalised so that everybody knows that while we live on our boats we are no different to someone who lives in a cottage over the road.

“We use local libraries and roads and have access to emergency services so we should pay, even thought we will be worse off.

“We are very happy to pay our way because in some people’s minds boaters are people who go below the radar and it’s not how we wish to be seen.”

The man said he understood that full residential moorings would either pay Band A council tax individually or split a group bill.

But he said he felt there should be a discount for boat owners.

And he said he knew some boat owners would object to paying any council tax.

“Some boaters will argue they should not pay council tax and I expect some of them will leave,” he added.