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Chelsea Residents v CYBC & PLA Court Decision

posted 27 Jan 2020, 15:34 by David   [ updated 27 Jan 2020, 17:08 ]
The Case

"By a licence dated 24 May 1989 made expressly pursuant to section 66 of the Port of London Act 1968 (the 1968 Act), the second defendant (the PLA) granted to the first defendant (the company) a licence to retain moorings at Chelsea Reach on the River Thames near Battersea Bridge for a term of 58 years. The claimants have been granted sub-licences by the company to moor residential boats there for an annual fee. In addition, the company charges a premium for long term sub-licences. The claimants say that the requirement to pay such premiums constitutes a breach of the licence and is contrary to section 70 of the 1968 Act and seek declarations to that effect. "


The Decision

"In my judgment the correct interpretation of the licence is that it does not prohibit the taking of a premium from houseboat owners who are prepared to pay such a premium over and above the annual mooring fee for the assurance of a fixed term licence." 


Comment:

It is worth noting that CYBC's licence from the PLA is unique  - the fees CYBC pay to the PLA are not based on the houseboat formula (which the PLA use for most marinas) but rather is simply 20% of what CYBC charge their residents (excluding the premium).  This unique licence runs until 2047 when the PLA will likely replace it with the formula.

One point of interest for houseboat residents is the judge ruled that the PLA are not after all obliged to obtain the "best consideration" for River Works Licences.  The PLA had always claimed, (during all licence fee negotiations we've been aware of) that they couldn't discount the charge - they had to charge "best consideration" because of section 67 of their Act.  River Works Licence holders who pay less than "best consideration" have understandably never been keen to tell OPLAC, or anyone.  This gets to the nub of the problem - yes people paying the PLA less  may be a great thing but if it's all hidden it becomes an invitation for cosy dealings, AKA corruption.  The PLA, although a QUANGO, are not subject to Freedom of Information and are famously secretive.  


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