BOAT bosses say they are relieved after a council rethought its plans to almost double mooring fees at Maldon’s Hythe Quay.

Barge operators say a strategy and resources committee meeting last Wednesday “opened a dialogue” between them and Maldon District Council.

Topsail Charters owner Paul Jeffries, who attended the meeting, claims the decision is “great news” for Hythe Quay’s iconic barges.

He said: “The barge operators had a meeting to discuss Wednesday night’s decision, and in general we are pleased with the outcome.

“This was that fees would increase by 10 per cent from the beginning of April and that several meetings would take place this year before any future increases.

“We are particularly pleased that the council has agreed to discuss a longer-term plan for Hythe Quay, together with any potential fee increases and are pleased that they recognise us as a ‘heritage asset’.

“We look forward to working closely with the council in the future to promote Maldon, its barges and the quay.”

Mr Jeffries says the barges received lots of support from residents after it was revealed they were under threat from the massive 94 per cent fees hike over three years.

He said: “There was great local support at the meeting from the local waterfront, especially Maldon Yacht Club, and I am sure that impressed councillors.

“We greatly appreciate all the support we have been shown, especially from the newly formed Maldon and Heybridge Heritage Harbour Group, who are working hard to gain recognition for Maldon’s important maritime heritage.

“The group started an e-petition which had 300 signatures in the first two days.

“I would urge people to still sign the petition as a sign of support as this will be valuable if we were to face any future mooring fees increases.

“We do have to keep reminding the council what an asset the barges are to Maldon.

“We are thankful that there are members who realise this and are long term supporters of the barges.

“In this instance, I think such recognition has been overshadowed by the financial position the council have found themselves in as a result of cuts to funding from central government.

“This dialogue is the most valuable thing to come out of our protest as any future rises will be agreed between the council and ourselves rather than being imposed without warning.”

Council leader Adrian Fluker said: “The proposal is that there will be a 10 per cent rise in mooring fees this year, together with a guarantee that we will meet with barge operators before any further rise is considered next year.

“This will enable the council and the barge operators to fully discuss and consider our respective positions and how any further rise will affected the operators.

“The council has made it clear to them that it continues to be committed to preserving the unique heritage of the area and values the barges as an attraction in encouraging tourism to the district.”

n To sign the petition, visit