Boat owners at troubled Lancaster port face hefty bill for police escorts

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Boat and yacht owners who can’t move their vessels through a troubled Lancaster port due to a broken sea gate, face thousands of pounds in police charges to escort them by road instead.

Glasson Dock near Lancaster has suffered from broken infrastructure since last year.

Concerns have included fears for port and transport jobs, flood risks, sea and fresh water fish life and tourism.

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Since the problems began Lancaster Port Commission , the Environment Agency, the Canal & River Trust and Aquavista have been involved in attempts to progress the issues.

Top section of a homeboat, Swallow, which the Sealand transport wants to take from Fleetwood to Glasson Dock. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.Top section of a homeboat, Swallow, which the Sealand transport wants to take from Fleetwood to Glasson Dock. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.
Top section of a homeboat, Swallow, which the Sealand transport wants to take from Fleetwood to Glasson Dock. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.

Now, a family boat owner from Rossendale and the boss of a road haulage firm based at Darwen near Blackburn have highlighted the financial costs of the problems.

Derek Abbot, from Rossendale, said he faces paying £2,000 or more to Lancashire Police to escort his family holiday homeboat from Fleetwood to Glasson Marina by road because it cannot currently access the marina by sea.

Mr Abbott said: “I’ve owned the boat since 1998. We’ve had some lovely family holidays on it. Recently, it’s been at Fleetwood but I want to get it into Glasson Marina. My family are now grown up now and we want to take the boat to Glasson, where it can earn its keep.

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“It’s a big boat and comes in two upper and lower sections. If it’s transported by road, it has to go on two low-loader lorries, which is expensive in itself. It’s only 20 miles by road from Fleetwood to Glasson on a route avoiding the motorway, Logistically, it is a common route. But we’ve been told we’d have to pay for a police escort.

Sealand boat transport firm taking a vessel, Ocean Lady, by road from Glasson Dock near Lancaster to Fleetwood. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.Sealand boat transport firm taking a vessel, Ocean Lady, by road from Glasson Dock near Lancaster to Fleetwood. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.
Sealand boat transport firm taking a vessel, Ocean Lady, by road from Glasson Dock near Lancaster to Fleetwood. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.

“I don’t think the police are being properly funded by government. And, I think, they’re charging for things like this now. I’ve never been charged by the police in Cumbria or Cheshire. So why Lancashire now?”

Andrew Rosthorn, of Sealand Boat Deliveries Limited, based near Darwen, near Blackburn, said Lancashire Police told him it would cost his firm, or the boat owner, £2,500 for a police escort to accompany the vessel if it was transported by road between Fleetwood and Glasson. The A588 road at Conder Green is seen as a narrow stretch in particular.

Regarding Glasson Dock’s current problems, Mr Rosthorn said: “I’ve seen the news reports about the alarming state of the 200-year-old year old port. My firm has been busy for months saving boat-owners’ holiday plans and, in two cases, rescuing people’s plans to make major voyages from the stricken marina.

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“We’ve also been able to move yachts by road from Glasson Dock to Fleetwood, where they can be launched and rigged to start their voyages. We have also brought a number of live-aboard boats to the marina by road. Canal boat owners have also been able to launch boats at Glasson Marina and then cruise on the Lancaster Canal.”

The Swallow homeboat being taken from the Lake District by Sealand transport, Lancashire. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.The Swallow homeboat being taken from the Lake District by Sealand transport, Lancashire. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.
The Swallow homeboat being taken from the Lake District by Sealand transport, Lancashire. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “We work in-line with the National Police Chief’s Council national guidelines for escorting abnormal loads and the costs chargeable for such activity.

“The primary concern is the legality of any movement on the route that has been notified. In any case where road traffic legislation cannot be complied with by a haulier, examples being contravening solid white lines or obstruction of the highway requiring oncoming traffic to be stopped to allow a wide or heavy load to proceed, then a police escort will be considered.

“It is pertinent to say that no civilian escorts have the necessary legal authority to stop or control traffic under existing legislation.

“It is the responsibility of the contracted haulier to assess the route, notify police of the movement and determine if the route and load can be moved legally without police assistance.

A boat section being transported on a motorway by Sealand transport firm. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.A boat section being transported on a motorway by Sealand transport firm. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.
A boat section being transported on a motorway by Sealand transport firm. Pic: Sealand transport, Lancashire.

“Where this is not possible then the haulier will request a police escort which uses specially trained officers compliant with the College of Policing requirements.

“Lancashire Police are keen to continue to work with hauliers to ensure all road users have safe and compliant access to the highway.”