Boaters in the Broads have been forced to pay out thousands of pounds after being taken to court for not paying toll fees.

Since the start of this year, the Broads Authority has taken nine people to court which has resulted in those prosecuted having to pay a total of £9,426 in fines, compensation victim surcharge and costs.

A further 24 cases have been settled out of court while another 27 cases are waiting to be heard.

Eastern Daily Press: The Broads Authority has said people found to have not paid their toll fee are only taken to court as a last resortThe Broads Authority has said people found to have not paid their toll fee are only taken to court as a last resort (Image: Archant)

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The boats were moored on waters within the navigation area without paying the appropriate toll, a breach of the Broads Authority vessel registration bylaws.

Toll fees have become a controversial issue among Broads boaters due to year-on-year increases which the BA say are necessary to meet growing costs.

The backlash has even led to a criminal court case, with one boater accused of painting his boat with swastikas in a protest against paying the fees. The case is due to be heard at Norwich Crown Court. 

The BA has said its decision to prosecute is "always a last resort" and it is only used when all other conversations and avenues have failed.

"Where boat owners are genuinely struggling to pay their tolls, we will listen and work with them," a spokesman said.

Eastern Daily Press: An aerial photograph of boats sailing on Wroxham BroadAn aerial photograph of boats sailing on Wroxham Broad (Image: Mike Page)

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Money raised from toll fees is used to fund all the maintenance, dredging and mooring improvements it carries out on the waterways and it is the only navigation authority in the UK that does not receive central funding for this.

Costs awarded through prosecutions are used to offset legal expenses, while the fines and victim surcharges are not paid to the BA.

Efforts are under way to help avoid further increased costs for boaters in future years, which includes lobbying the government for capital grants for navigation expenses and also utilising national park funds for work that has a mutual benefit.