Mid Wales

Mooring fees rise 'could empty Aberaeron harbour'

Aberaeron, Ceredigion Image copyright Roger Kidd / Geograph
Image caption Aberaeron is known as the "jewel of Cardigan Bay"

Boats mooring at a seaside town - known as the "jewel of Cardigan Bay" - may soon have to pay 25% more.

Fees for Vessels mooring in the harbour at Aberaeron are set to be increased after Ceredigion council's cabinet backed rises over the next four years.

But Aberaeron councillor Elizabeth Evans plans to challenge the move and wants support of five other councillors so it can go to the scrutiny committee.

The council said the department running harbours had a £250,000 deficit.

The local yachting club fears a rise could "empty the harbour" and Ms Evans said the town could lose its "unique selling point" if boats left.

Boat owners pay to moor their vessels in Aberaeron harbour in the summer, and on a hard standing adjacent to the harbour over the winter.

They are charged according to the size of the boat - currently the fees are £34.50 per metre of length during the summer and £19 per metre through the winter.

Image caption Julian Driver said most people who owned boats in the harbour were local and had older boats

"An increase of 25% each year over the next four years will effectively be an increase of 144%," said Julian Driver, secretary of the local yachting club, before Tuesday's meeting.

"And who's to say what'll happen after that? There's one boat up for sale here now - a few other boat owners are saying the same thing. This could empty the harbour.

"The people who own the boats are builders, electricians and a lot of retired people. The vast majority live in Aberaeron or nearby.

"The smaller boats cost around £5,000, some are bigger and cost up to £28,000 but there's not many of those here. Most of them are around 30 years old so they're not modern boats."

Image caption The Katy Lou has been at Aberaeron Harbour since 1969 and been owned by a number of people

Ms Evans said Aberaeron was in danger of losing its "unique selling point".

"I have sympathy that cuts have to be made and income raised but you have to look at the effect decisions have on communities," she said.

"The boat owners are used to above-inflation fee rises each year, but this flies in the face of any common sense."

The council said it was in a "very challenging position".

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