Boat owners sunk by new rules and a £60 permit

MOTORBOAT owners will no longer be able to pop to Weston and drop anchor for the day unless they put their hand in their pocket and

MOTORBOAT owners will no longer be able to pop to Weston and drop anchor for the day unless they put their hand in their pocket and pay a minimum of £60 for an annual permit.North Somerset Council has introduced a new scheme for any motor powered water craft owner who wants to launch their boat off the slipway at Knightstone Island.Anyone captaining a vessel will have to buy a permit, at the cost of £60 for an individual and £54 for each additional driver, £70 for a two-parent family and £67 for a one-parent family.Previously water sports enthusiasts did not need a permit to launch their motorboats into Weston Bay and people could visit the town for the day without worrying about having to pay.The local authority says the scheme will help it to make sure everyone has the right insurance because motorboat owners have to produce the documents in order to get a permit.North Somerset Council has also confirmed that it plans to get council officers to man the gate by the slipway to make sure everyone has a permit.The authority wants the checks, or a suitable alternative, to be in place by the summer.Anyone who pays the annual permit fee will automatically become a member of Weston Bay Watersports Club but the permit does not cover Uphill boatyard which has separate arrangements. Peter Nicholls, who lives in Bleadon, has launched his 17ft ski boat from Knightstone Island's slipway for the last 30 years.He says boat owners are thinking of getting together at the slipway with their boats and their insurance documents and refusing to pay.Mr Nicholls said: "The council is trying to force us to join Weston Bay WaterSports Club but people will refuse."This is another shot in the back for tourism. Burnham doesn't charge so people will just go there"I think insurance should be controlled, but my son drives the boat and my wife and her children, so it's not affordable."A North Somerset Council spokesman said: "This new scheme was brought in at the beginning of April."As land owners, we need to ensure the area around the slipway is managed properly and is safe for all users."When people apply for a permit we have to get the necessary insurance details before it is given to them. So introducing the permits is a way of checking them."We have been working with Weston Bay Watersports Club to sort out the scheme and its members already had something similar in place."We have had complaints from people saying they are not interested in joining the club but at the moment they would have to become a member to launch their boat at Knightstone."If anyone wants to make any suggestions about the permit or if boat owners want to form their own club they can call North Somerset Council's destination manager Julia Stuckey on 01934 888826 or email her at julia.stuckey@n-somerset.gov.uk


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