OPLAC's Submission to the PLA 'Tidal Thames Vision' Excercise
Post date: May 14, 2015 4:19:22 PM
The PLA have launched a slightly woolly 'have your say' consultation exercise entitled 'Tidal Thames Vision' see http://www.pla.co.uk/About-Us/The-Thames-Vision/About-the-Vision-Project
Below is OPLAC's initial response:
What do you value most about the tidal River Thames? *
Its appearance, along the river banks and that the river is for public enjoyment.
What are your top three priorities for the future of the tidal River Thames? *
1) To have the river run by a democratically accountable organisation with board members elected by the people who fund it (its customers) and/or the public. When the PLA was set up in 1908 64% of its board members were elected by its customers and only 11% by the PLA themselves. Today no board members are elected by customers and 72-89% are appointed by the PLA themselves. Consequently the PLA have lost touch with the public and their customers.
2) For more houseboats along the Thames to be boats rather than multi storey boxes. Current PLA river works charging policy encourages multi storey square boxes over boats (e.g. a three storey 15m x 15m box is charged the same as a 15m sailing barge). A discount should be given to boats and also to historic boats.
3) More visitor moorings along the Thames. The current PLA charging policy discourages visitor moorings at marinas - for both residential and pleasure marinas empty moorings are charged as if they were permanently occupied. There should be no river works charge for moorings that are used only as visitor moorings.
What would you like the PLA to be doing for the tidal River Thames? *
1) We would like the PLA to make itself accountable to its customers and the public by having elected representatives of them on its board.
2) We would like the PLA to encourage residential house boats over multi storey boxes by discounting the river works fee for boats and also historic boats. At the least a discount should have some regard to the reduced living space available in a boat.
3) We would like the PLA to encourage the provision of visitor moorings by removing river works fees for moorings used only for vistors.
4) We would like the PLA to encourage rather than restrict public use of the Thames. Eg The footbridge at Richmond Lock should be re-opened for the public at all times of day (nightime closure was introduced around 2008 "to protect our troops [employees]" - The PLA should not be in a 'war' with the public). The footbridge should also be gritted during winter snow rather than the current practice of simply closing it to the public. Non corrosive grit is available.
5) The PLA should investigate generating tidal energy from Richmond half lock and encourage tidal energy generation along the Thames.
6) The PLA should manage water levels below Richmond half lock better so as to minimise very low water downstream of the lock.
7) the PLA should enforce speed limits better along all the Tidal Thames and especially near residential marinas.
8) Any organision running the Thames should not regard it as a money making opportunity. The PLA was set up to be the caretaker not the landlord of the Thames; the PLA should not be issuing mooring licences or profiting directly from the fact that the river bed was vested in the PLA by the Crown in 1856. Nor should the PLA benefit financially by issuing such things as exemptions to speed limits.