Council could close slipway - warning

THE director of a watersports club says a few motorboat owners could end up 'spoiling it for the many' if they carry on protesting

THE director of a watersports club says a few motorboat owners could end up 'spoiling it for the many' if they carry on protesting against a new permit scheme.North Somerset Council has introduced a new system 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 from now on, 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.The fee includes membership to Weston Bay Watersports Club, which some boat owners also objected to.But the club's director, Rob Solomon, says the new scheme is a good idea and that if people do not accept it the local authority could decide to close the slipway at Knightstone completely.Mr Solomon said: "I feel it is important that the facts should be recorded and not the hearsay of a few disgruntled boat owners and jet skiers."North Somerset Council asked Weston Bay Watersports Club to work with it on a permit scheme and assist with its administration and implementation. "As the club has £5million public liability insurance it was a natural partnership and also ensured the price of the permit was set at a reasonable rate."The main need for all craft owners was to have individual insurance for their boats or jet skis, something that many have never had and which has put other craft users and members of the public at risk should an unfortunate accident occur. "The fee is set to allow for the cost of the permit payable to the council, the printing and permit sticker cost and the membership element gives the user the benefit of the required £5million public liability. Other than this the club makes no profit from the fees."Given that many other resorts charge a launch fee, locally it is £15 per month at Burnham and many lakes charge in excess of £20 per launch, the fee set for the permit is good value given the benefits included. "If craft owners do not wish to launch from Knightstone they can still launch at Uphill boatyard for £7 a day."Due to the poor attitude and bad manners of some watercraft owners the council could have chosen to close the slipway full stop, something which was narrowly avoided last year. North Somerset Council could still take this option and close it to all. This would be a case of a few spoiling it for the many we feel."If the craft owners who are complaining wish, they have the option to set up their own club and provide the public liability insurance and craft insurance individually and apply for permits direct with the council. However we feel it would prove a more expensive route for them to take."It would be far more effective if people with concerns contacted the club or council to discuss them."If anyone wants to make suggestions about the permit, or if boat owners want to form their own club -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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