Plans by Labour-run Southwark Council to whack up income from those who live on the boats at South Dock Marina, Surrey Docks will destroy the community, claim local Liberal Democrat councillors.
This summer the Cabinet Member for Environment decided to increase charges by 24% - even though the marina already makes a profit.
Liberal Democrat councillors ‘called in’ the decision for scrutiny as little or no consultation had taken place with berth holders. This forced the Council to put the decision on hold while councillors examined the issue in more detail.
South Dock Marina residents also objected to the plans because of comparisons with private market prices and the lack of consultation, transparency and openness. The cross-party Scrutiny Committee agreed that the Council needed to consult with residents more and come up with a new financial model with fairer charges.
Since the September Scrutiny meeting though no further meetings took place place between the Council and South Dock Marina berth holders. The Council’s original fee increases have now been imposed on boat owners. The outcome caused berth holders and opposition councillors to accuse the Council of acting in bad faith and making a mockery of democratic decision-making.
Leader of the Opposition and Scrutiny Committee member, Liberal Democrat councillor Anood Al-Samerai, said:
“It seems the Council’s only interest is milking as much as possible out of the South Dock Marina residents, possibly confusing them with St.Tropez just because they have a boat.
“Promises were made in September that the Council would look again and listen to residents, but this has not happened and the Council has tried to pretend it was residents’ fault. Residents understand they have to pay more, but were all keen to ensure it was done fairly.
"Councillors were told that the council had 'repeatedly engaged' with residents, but when I asked to see the emails they had mysteriously disappeared.
“Sadly, we are seeing a pattern of an arrogant Labour council making decisions about homes and livelihoods without consulting and then pretending they have consulted after the event.
“The Council should spend its time listening to the people it serves, not scrabbling around to cover up a complete failure to treat them fairly."