A COUNCILLOR has defended his case after being fined in court for flouting boat regulations.

Peter Kelland was criticised yesterday after it was revealed he had been made to pay almost £800, after keeping his boat on the River Thames in Abingdon without registration.

The West Oxfordshire district councillor, who runs The Ferryman Inn near Witney, was found to have moored his boat Vecta on Nags Island.

In July Oxford Magistrates' Court sided with the Environment Agency in agreeing this broke boating rules, as all boats kept or used on the River Thames must be registered.

The Oxford Mail could not reach Mr Kelland for comment yesterday, after the EA announced he had been fined, but he has now spoken out in disagreement of the court's decision.

He said: "My boat Vecta was moored at Abingdon on Nags Island, a private mooring.

"The EA was fully aware that the boat had engine problems and was not being used on the river and that the mooring fees had been paid - it was not like many other boats that are used on the Thames, that keep moving to avoid paying fees. 

"I had agreed to move the boat to Oxford for it to be taken out of the water for a clean and to have new carburetors fitted to alleviate the engine problems.

"After Christmas for many weeks, the river was in full flood, with the red boards out which means boats can not move.

"Vecta was to be moved by strapping it to another boat, so two boats would move as one - as my boat is 32' long it needed a bigger boat to control it, so river flow had to be manageable.

"We moved it as soon as was possible and the EA was kept informed.

"The EA knew it was not be being used on the river and was on a paid for private mooring.

"I sent a letter to the court explaining the position and as it clearly stated I did not have to appear in court, I did not.

"I feel that the court failed to read my letter and accepted the EA's case."

The EA has clarified that all boats on the River Thames must be still registered regardless of being broken or moored privately.