Thursday, 20 March 2014

Pillings Marina

The issue of Pillings marina seems to be continuing and has been escalated further by the blockade threat made by the trust. Irrespective of the unpleasant messages about family and previous clients of the marina that have been placed on Facebook.

At the time period when the marina was being proposed BW published a prospectus for new marina operators. Which is still available on line. It is a prospectus which clearly paints a very rosy operating position. M'learned friends will ask, was the prospectus a misleading document. The prospectus would also be closely linked to the British Waterways business plan of the time which was then a confidential document with limited circulation. The prospectus and the BW business plan when taken together would also provide some rich pickings for m'learned friends to mull over at great expense.  

I discovered a long time ago that any expectation of morality in business holds very little sway. I also learned that morality for a charity was a paramount position to maintain. The sacrificial pawns in the middle of this game - are the boaters.

There is a rather interesting aspect to this issue and one that has not been aired so far. However, I would imagine that there are other marina who are currently paying the CaRT access charge, who will be watching the developments with more than a little interest. I would also imagine that marina owners who are not paying the charge will also be awaiting the outcome as it will possibly have serious consequences for their business.

So I'm playing the role of devils advocate, the Canal and River Trust it should be remembered are in a monopoly situation operating as the sole provider for the waterways under their control.

It could be alleged that CaRT are abusing their position as monopoly provider by way of discrimination. CaRT by using a specific access charge at one marina, a charge that is not levied at one or more other marinas within the area. That selective application of such a charge gives unfair advantage to the marinas competitors. Add into the equation that BWML is operating marinas under much more favourable terms and conditions which are not available to many other operators. This could then be interpreted as providing BWML with an unfair advantage and undercutting competition to all other marinas.

Inequality is a well recognised discrimination. I would imagine that the argument would be 'that an unequal applied charge' has ultimately led to business number one, that was operating the marina on behalf of business number two, going into receivership. Therefore the claim of inequality by the trust also spreads to business number two who are not part of the action taken by CaRT. By being placed in a position where they are unable to lawfully operate their business with any real prospect of making a return. 

That the threat of blockade of access into the marina which is also impeding business number two from employing another business to operate and manage its holdings as intended. That the proposed blockade was a further discrimination that has encouraged boats to leave the marina and further damaging their trade and profitability further. That the communication sent to the marina customers has further disadvantaged their trading position.

That the position created by BW/CaRT therefore creates an unequal playing field of many different levels. Creating an inequality to trade fairly and with equal opportunity in an area controlled by a monopoly. I expect that such a case would be built and placed with the Monopolies commission to examine the situation. If the Commission hold that the Trust is abusing its position, the situation could change dramatically. The next escalation in either case would then be with the charities commission and the way the trust is operating its business. Which would bring a further minefield for the trust and the trustees.

Now lets speculate that the case is ultimately decided in favour of Pillings. Will the trust remove the charge at Pilings and other marina.  Alternatively will it retrospectively apply the charge to all marinas.  I don't need to speculate on that outcome. CaRT would claim that their hand was forced and they need to apply the charge fairly and that it must apply to all.

But CaRT also has a mixture of charges which it applies in other areas. For instance when applying a charge of 9% of the full occupancy of a marina income. Compared with placing a charge of 50% for an end of garden mooring.

One way or another the public and boaters are going to be picking up the not inconsequential bill for the whole issue. I would not hold my breath on this one, I think that this is a story that still has a long long way to run. It will bring even more dubious valuable publicity as the various colours of washing are laundered once more in public.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.