Boatowners look to competition law to challenge fees rise
Guernsey’s boatowners are to challenge mooring fee rises through the competition regulator.
At the annual general meeting of the Guernsey Boatowners Association members voted overwhelmingly to back president Nick Guillemette’s plan to write to the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority to ask it to investigate the States’ Trading Supervisory Board increasing mooring fees by between 17% and 45% next year.
‘We’ve already discussed it and there’s nothing else for us to do but to write to the GCRA to ask them to investigate this situation,’ he said.
‘We’ve taken some very well-informed legal advice and that was that they feel the States’ Trading Supervisory Board, or the States of Guernsey in this case, would be infringing the law.
‘Increasing the fees by 50%-90% over the next three years seems to be excessive in the extreme and has no correlation to the service provided.’
Mr Guillemette told the meeting that Guernsey Ports effectively had a monopoly on providing private moorings in the island. The only competitor was Beaucette Marina but, Guernsey Ports had in excess of 1,600 moorings compared to about 160 at Beaucette.
‘There’s nowhere else for us to go and it’s a captive market,’ he said.
Harbour master Captain David Barker had taken issue with an earlier comment by Mr Guillemette that mooring fees were being used to help fund the airport, but Mr Guillemette stood by this claim and a GBA member later pointed out that all the fees went into the States’ Ports Holding Account, which was then used for all ports.
Several States members attended the meeting, including Deputy Gavin St Pier, who said that the changes to the fees would be among items laid before the States on 13 December.
Such items were not debated, nor voted on, and the only way to stop one would be to ask for it to be rescinded.
He did not know of any occasion where such a move had succeeded. He said that he made the point to manage expectations of what the States may or may not do.
He could not comment on what impact a letter to the GCRA might have.
GCRA chief executive Michael Byrne said it had received a communication.
‘[We] will be considering it in accordance with our procedures. But at this point cannot comment further,’ he said.