Last week OPLAC pulled out of the PLA-RBOA-OPLAC Steering Group that was meant to be steering the consultants producing the River Works fees report.
We did this because the consultants had taken almost no notice of the public consultation which overwhelmingly rejected their report. The only significant concession shown to us was a reduction in the cut the PLA are to be given of net mooring fees, from 33% to 30%. This tiny reduction was particularly galling as up until now the consultants, the PLA and RBOA had all maintained that the cut had to be exactly 1/3 'because there are three equal parties'.
Our resignation letter is copied at bottom.
It will be amazing if the PLA go ahead and accept the
revised report given the public's response, however all the signs are that is
what they will do, with perhaps a few more minor amendments. The key that the PLA will rely on is RBOA
(Residential Boat Owners Association) support, given by the ex chair of RBOA
(pic left) who set up in business with the consultant (pic right) during the process.
The RBOA grass
roots headed up by their Tidal Thames Rep Clive Wren are attempting to overturn
thie RBOA decision, if necessary by calling an Extraordinary General Meeting of
RBOA. If they succeed the PLA will
surely be unable to accept the consultants report, so please support them. Contact Clive here: email@example.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Beaumont [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: 05 December 2011 23:43
> To: Steering Group Chair
> Subject: Steering Group
> Dear Richard,
> OPLAC have considered the consultants' revised proposal and compared it with the proposal made
> prior to the public consultation.
> We do not believe the revised proposal represents a significant change over the original. The
> largest amendment, a reduction in the proposed PLA cut of net mooring fees from 33% to 30%, is
> so small as to make it apparent that the views expressed so abundantly in the consultation
> have not been taken on board. We repeatedly pointed out that your rigid 1/3 take had no logic
> or justification. You dogmatically maintained that position up until the last moment. To
> concede the point now, in the face of overwhelming public rejection, yet only change it by 3%
> is both ungracious and avaricious. It has turned the public consultation into the mere
> distribution of a draft.
> You will be aware that the Terms of Reference of the Steering Group number 6(a) states that
> the main output of the study shall be a methodology "that commands a reasonable degree of
> support from the houseboat community". It is absolutely clear from the public responses that
> the original study has not met this. It is also obvious to us that the revised study does not
> meet it either, nor does it come close.
> You are also aware that we have complained of numerous breaches of the Terms of reference
> number 10 which requires that all documentation and data shown to the consultants by the PLA
> are also to be shown to us. We have still not seen them.
> To disregard our views particularly on the 1/3 and the costs in the original report is
> unfortunate. To disregard the clear feedback from the public consultation is unforgiveable.
> Therefore in the circumstances OPLAC are hereby withdrawing from the Steering Group. Peter and
> I will not be attending the meeting on Thursday. Please be aware that Moira, if attending,
> will not be representing OPLAC. We will henceforth be making our own proposals directly to the
> This study was an opportunity to produce a fair and reasoned formula that would resolve the
> long standing animus between the PLA and its customers. Outstanding like two sore thumbs in
> both proposals were the 33%/30% take and the refusal to look at actual costs. Both are
> neither fair nor reasonable. Nor are they supported by logic or evidence. A fundamental flaw
> underlying the whole proposal is the consultants’ belief that the 1968 Act obliges the PLA to
> get 'best value'. Even an amateur reading of section 67 of the Act clearly shows that the
> 'best value' test is only to be applied failing agreement. Unfortunately this sums up the
> PLA’s long history with residential boat dwellers – never wanting to agree, always seeing them
> as adversaries to be beaten back. It is a great shame and this revised proposal is yet
> another missed opportunity; we are now back where we started from in 2009, except that the PLA
> are light by a significant amount of money and boat dwellers are more motivated and more
> knowledgeable than they were then.
> Wishing you a Merry Christmas
> David Beaumont