Table of Contents

Scottish Canals’ response to the consultation into the independent review of moorings and licence prices has now been published, and can be seen here.

Customer feedback raised during the consultation can be seen in the Issues Matrix, here, along with Scottish Canals’ response to each item.

The consultation attracted 88 responses from 78 individuals and organisations, representing 17% of Scottish Canals’ mooring customers and 3% of all boating customers.

The consultation closed at midnight on 21st October 2016. Following Scottish Government guidelines and as part of our ongoing commitment to openness and transparency, we published all the responses we have been given permission to share on our website on 10th November 2016. These responses are visible here.

68 responses were received through our online pricing consultation survey, of which 65 permitted us to publish their responses online. Two requested their response not be published and one skipped the question. Nine of the respondents sent additional comments via email. These have also been published where permission was given. In addition to these, we also received six responses by email, two from boating customers and four from boating organisations.

We evaluated the responses to the consultation and drafted a report on the outcomes which was taken to the Board of Scottish Canals. While we had hoped to publish this report before Christmas, this was not possible due to the number of customer responses we received.

Scottish Canals’ Pricing Consultation Response

We commissioned this independent review into the pricing strategy for moorings and licences on Scotland’s canals in October 2015, as a direct response to customer feedback. This came on the back of price increases in April 2015 of moorings and licence fees as part of a wider drive to charge fair and reasonable rates for products and services which the organisation provides. Some of our customers told us they weren’t happy with the new prices as they didn’t believe they were fair. They also questioned Scottish Canals’ analysis of the market.

We subsequently procured respected property consultants Gerald Eve and GVA via the public appointments website, who worked with British Marine and RYA Scotland to: 

  • identify a methodology for setting the prices of residential and leisure moorings and a methodology for setting the price of navigational and transit licences
  • set out clear recommendations for future price changes.

This was no simple task. The canals are not all the same; they offer different attractions and challenges both in themselves and where they are in Scotland, they attract very different users and over the years, historic agreements with customers have led to inconsistencies in charges. This mean that some customers were paying significantly more than someone else with a mooring in the same location.

Following customer feedback, the original purpose of the independent review was expanded to include pre-consultation meetings with boating customers in Falkirk, Ardrishaig and Inverness in February 2016 and a visit to all residential mooring sites during April 2016. Scottish Canals was not present at any of these sessions, although we did meet Gerald Eve/GVA on a number of occasions to provide the information they required.

On 21st July 2016 Gerald Eve/GVA published the report, 'Scottish Canals - Pricing Strategy', which set out their recommendations. Scottish Canals spent the following week preparing a consultation document which invited boaters and boating organisations to feedback their views on these recommendations. It is important to note that the consultation did not seek to invite feedback on the methodology which Gerald Eve/GVA had proposed as this was the outcome of an independent process.

Gerald Eve/GVA’s report and their covering letter are all available to download below and were emailed to our boating customers, issued via our boaters’ newsletters and sent to the media for the widest possible reach. We also worked with British Marine and RYA Scotland to encourage their members to take part and updated customers at all public meetings which took place during this time.

Scottish Canals Pricing Review – Gerald Eve/GVA’s Cover Letter

Scottish Canals Pricing Strategy – Gerald Eve/GVA’s Final Report

Pricing Consultation Q&As – A joint response from Scottish Canals and Gerald Eve/GVA

The aim of this process was to ensure a fair and reasonable pricing structure and price review process, for both Scottish Canals and our boating customers, based on independent evaluation and research. As we move towards greater transparency and standardisation of both prices and agreements, the fees recommended by Gerald Eve/GVA will supersede any previous charges, discounts, offers or personal agreements at the date of renewal for all contracts.

As a result of this exercise, some customers will see prices rise while others will see them fall. However, when we commissioned this independent review, we stated publicly that we would adhere to Gerald Eve and GVA’s recommendations and we are committed to doing so.

Adhering to the Scottish Government’s Good practice Guidance on Consultations, customers were given 12 weeks to read Gerald Eve/GVA’s independent report and feedback their views on how these recommendations should be implemented via the consultation process. As this is a complex subject, we took the opportunity to invite feedback on other key issues that customers raised both during the pre-consultation meetings and prior to the review but which fell outwith the scope of Gerald Eve/GVA’s work. In an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, we also sought customer feedback on these issues in the consultation.

We created a dedicated email address for any customer who needed help in understanding the impact that Gerald Eve/GVA’s recommendations would have on them. We also wrote to our boating customers, marinas, and boating organisations via email and our boaters’ newsletter to explain each stage of the process.

“My fees may be going up a couple of hundred pounds but I think it’s well worth it as the facilities and customer service are second to none. Folk spend a fortune on flats to overlook a canal that I’m actually not paying too much to live on!” 

Residential boater, Bowling, Forth & Clyde Canal