Consultation on fees and charges for piers and harbours

Argyll and Bute Council is in the process of reviewing the operation of its piers and harbours, which includes fees and charges.

This has been informed by consulting with users, benchmarking against comparable local authorities and producing an outline ten-year asset management plan.

As part of this process, we are holding a public consultation on the proposals which will run from Thursday 19th January to Monday 13th February 2017.

The initial consultation plan was set out in a report to the August meeting of the council’s harbour board. It was agreed at that meeting that in future pier/harbour dues should be set, as a minimum, at a level which will cover operating and staffing costs; inspection, maintenance and whole life asset management costs; and any prudential borrowing costs required to fund shoreside infrastructure associated with the future ferry services. This was the basis for the initial consultation.

The public feedback was then used to inform proposals which went to the board’s November meeting. It was agreed to hold a further round of consultation on the structure for setting fees and charges to ensure they meet the long-term costs of running and maintaining the council’s 39 piers and harbours.

An exercise was carried out to group all of the 39 piers and harbours into their various categories depending on usage e.g. Campbeltown, Dunoon, Rothesay, Oban, Craignure and Port Askaig have been classed as Category A piers and harbours, as these are all income generating principal facilities.

The structure will ensure that income generated at each of the Category A piers and harbours covers total costs for all 39, plus a contribution to a central fund which will be used to pay for all major works.

The structure would see costs considered in three categories:

  • major works across all 39 facilities – depreciation and loan charges. These sums can be significant and sporadic, making it difficult to balance them against the running costs of individual harbours. As such it is proposed that these costs be considered separately and factored into the charging scheme of the Category A piers and harbours;
  • costs for providing additional services. Currently some services for some vessels are charged separately, but not all. For example, rope handling is a separate charge for cargo vessels but not for ferries. It is proposed to standardise this charging scheme to recognise the different costs for the different services provided at each facility; and the basic berthing service for ferries and commercial vessels. This is currently charged on a combination of tonnage, passenger and vehicle numbers or freight. Passenger and vehicle numbers have little impact on the cost of running a harbour so it is proposed to move to a flat rate annual charge for ferries in future.

There are also proposals to:

  • have a Council staff presence at Craignure and Port Askaig facilities (NOTE – there are already CalMac staff at these piers) to assist with effective operations of these facilities and, more widely, with the collection of dues on Islay/Jura and Mull/Iona’.
  • end the summer and winter split on fees for unregistered commercial vessels. What this currently means in practice is that during the winter, when commercial vessels are doing exactly the same as they would be doing in the summer, they are charged less. This is beneficial to the leisure sector where vessels are laid up in the winter, however commercial vessels are not, so a winter discount should not be applicable;
  • to charge for electricity separately, as this is something that is not currently done, meaning the council effectively pays for the electricity use of berthed vessels;
  • to install CCTV at unmanned facilities in order to track and monitor usage and ‘maximise the recovery of berthing dues’
  • to work with local communities to ‘maximise the recovery of berthing dues’ from remote locations.

To help us as we develop these plans we would like to ask you your views: