Spoilt for choice of moorings? We could be seeing the first signs in a month where global economy has gone mad and at least one major marina development has been shelved. There’s even talk of allowing boats without a permanent mooring to pay an annual towpath mooring fee which sounds like another British Waterways scatterbrained idea which is bound to backfire.
Today (12th December) the BW Mooring Tenders website listed four mooring tenders to be completed at 13:00. Three of them closed without any bids at all, despite in my opinion, there being a lot worse places to moor than Whaley Bridge (22m towpath mooring with no bids) or the immensely popular moorings at Claverton on the K&A where a 15m berth suitable for a widebeam has also been ignored. I don’t think I can recall another day where so many moorings were returned with no bids. In fact this week out of 13 tenders, only 8 had any bids at all and most of those were more or less equal to the guide price, apart from one very low below the reserve and one exceptionally high, more of which in a second. Even more unusual this week is that out of 13 vacancies, no less than 3 were for residential moorings and out of the 10 leisure moorings 6 are still vacant.
To keep things in the balance, however, there is another first on the mooring tenders site this week. The first mooring bid over £9,000 pounds per annum (excluding Poplar Marina on the tidal Thames) was tendered this week, for a residential berth in the Engineers Wharf moorings on the Paddington Arm at Northolt. This location is in itself very unusual as it is a new development of waterside flats, Grand Union Village, incorporating 23 moorings which much to the amazement of everyone concerned were all granted residential status by the local council earlier this year. So this month has set a very dangerous precedent in valuing the moorings in this area – with the recommended guide price of £5,250 now being dwarfed by a successful tender this week of £9,250 per annum, beating the previous record bid for a mooring where another berth in the same location reached £8,250 on December 1st.
Is this the most expensive rented mooring on the canal system? A new two bed flat here in the Grand Union Village overlooking this mooring is available for rent of £11,400 per annum – just £2,150 more than a pair of mooring rings!
So is this system really a fair platform for mooring allocation? I have no objection to an auction based system but this is no fair auction. BW do plan to amend the system to become a true auction where bidders will be permitted to compete with each other instead of blindly throwing money away and such a system should finally allow a balanced picture of the true value of moorings to emerge, but no date has yet been set so how much more craziness can we expect in the meantime?