OPEN-AIR MEETING AND PICNIC
Recent proposed changes to CRT Terms & Conditions (T&C’s) have provoked the ire of both leisure and live-aboard boaters.
Boaters opposing changes to T&Cs are in agreement in challenging the lack of consultation and legal basis for changes, which seem to clearly infringe on boaters’ rights outlined in the 1995 Waterways Act. These latest T&Cs define 2 separate types of licence; one for leisure users, and another for ‘Continuous Cruising’ (CC-ers). The accompanying granularly detailed restrictions seem like overkill at best, and at worst appear to be targeting and further marginalising those CC-ers who are less affluent (ie. towing restrictions). In yet another instance of duplicity, CRT T&Cs say it “may provide your relevant personal details to anyone who we believe has a legitimate interest to have the details”, whilst also claiming it can’t engage with boaters directly via email (to consult on issues) because of GDPR.
NBTA’s solicitors have sent a second legal pre-action protocol letter to CRT over our belief that at least parts of CRT’s T&Cs are unlawful. CRT then made minor changes. These changes included removal of:
‘10.10: The Boat must not display an association with, or advertise, any company, business or service without Our (CRT’s) express consent in writing.’
However there are still a lot more clauses like this in their new T& C’s.
Over 12 years ago some boat dwellers without home moorings in the Reading area pulled themselves together to form the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA). This was in response to extra enforcement in the Reading area. Their campaign against increased enforcement forced the authorities to back down.
Over the following years, NBTA membership would expand and so would its achievements. The resulting NBTA campaigns ensured that CRT followed the Equalities Act 2010, and helped to get boat dwellers into an Act of Parliament where Local Councils are required to do needs assessments for boat dwellers in their local area.
Throughout its existence, NBTA has helped to stop individuals being evicted and ensure they are able to get access to healthcare and education for their children. When necessary, NBTA sets up campaigns, varying from fighting against mooring spaces being taken away, to campaigning to get more boater facilities, to organising the community against boater evictions.
However, it must be said NBTA wouldn’t exist without people being a part of it. When we say NBTA did this or did that, the reality is that these things are being done by boat dwellers just like you; they might even be moored next to you. We believe more can be changed or protected when we work together as an organisation. The more people working together in the organisation, the more that can be done.
So if you’re not already, why not consider being one of the people who does something to protect our way of life?
Our meetings take place on the last Sunday of each month at 4pm. Our next meeting is on Sunday 25th July.
Due to Covid, meetings take place on line. You can also join by phone. Here are the joining details:
Alternatively, you can use the dial in details:
Dial-in: +44 330 808 1706 PIN: 45925961#
The second stage of the “Safety Zones” consultation has opened and will take the form of a “bilateral mediated discussion” between two boater representatives and two CRT representatives.
We requested that various boater constituencies with specific vulnerabilities be represented and we requested a direct discussion with the rowers but neither of these requests have been heeded.
Instead of asking boaters to nominate two representatives, two boaters were nominated by Hopkins Van Mil, the facilitators of the consultation. We have indicated that this is unacceptable and have nominated two boaters to represent us, who were voted on by the NBTA.
We have responded to the invitation to the second stage of the consultation with the following questions:
- What is the objective of the bilateral meeting?
- Will the CRT provide granular data concerning safety incidents prior to the meeting?
- Will the CRT be putting forward new policy proposals in the meeting?
- Will new policy proposals be developed as a result of this meeting?
- If yes, will feedback on those proposals be sought from stakeholders?
- What other bilateral meetings are scheduled?
- Will a facilitated bilateral meeting between rowers and boaters be held?
- Will the feedback from the stakeholder engagement form be shared prior to the meeting?
- Will the meeting be audio recorded?
- Will minutes of the meeting be publicly available?
Because the CRT has not provided detailed evidence regarding the alleged safety concerns, or undertaken any genuine investigation, these discussions are unlikely to be fruitful. In order to make progress on this issue, we have proposed that the CRT develop a new proposal that is supported by evidence and based on a dialogue between the affected groups.
The Hackney Flotilla on 13th June was a great success with 45 boats and 13-16 smaller boats (tenders, rowing boats) and over 1000 people joining by foot throughout the day at the event.
Our initial goals for the event set out were reached – public awareness, public engagement, community reinforcement and national press. It was in press such as the Guardian, BBC London radio, Hackney Gazette, Waterway World, amongst other press outlets.
CRT hasn’t backed down yet, so we must continue to campaign. If CRT rolls out the mooring restrictions, we encourage disobey them.
Please encourage others to do the same please sign the pledge: MOORING PROTEST PLEDGE | National Bargee Travellers Association – London Branch (wordpress.com)
A few pictures from the Flotilla
The anti-Safety Zone campaign was the major theme of Eddie Nestor’s evening drivetime show on BBC Radio London on Friday, 11 July.
Boater Nick Corrigan was invited to speak on how the zones will affect boaters and several boaters rang in to give their views. Nestor also spoke to the CRT’s Matthew Symonds, as well as Ian Henley, from Broxbourne Rowing Club.
Matthew Symonds used ridiculously inflated safety incident numbers, quoting ‘240 incidents’ over the last 6 years, but neglecting to mention that most of those incidents involved rowers colliding with stationary objects, one another and swans. Only 19% of the incidents cited were with powered boats. Why cite the irrelevant 240 figure at all except as a scare tactic?
Ian Henley used language indicating that the rowing club feels a sense of ownership over the waterway, referring to ‘our stretch of river’ rather than ‘this stretch of river’. Boaters don’t claim ownership of the water – our entire way of life is premised on cooperation and sharing.
The NBTA has edited together the relevant parts of the show. Have a listen here.
Nick Corrigan 00:58
Matthew Symonds 18:24
Ian Henley 33:50
Many boaters rang in with excellent points – listen to the whole piece to hear their arguments.
The CRT has published a ‘stakeholder engagement form‘ seeking feedback on the ‘water safety zones’ (after the launch of the zones, let’s not forget). The deadline for filling in the form is Monday 21 June. The NBTA has prepared some draft responses for boaters to use and make their own.
The CRT has attempted to limit responses by refusing to extend the deadline for completion, allowing a window of only 19 days. Also, rather than email the form to all boaters who have signed up for CRT updates, they have emailed it only to boaters who have been sighted on the Lee since 1 January 2021. This raises clear questions as to whether the CRT is deliberately limiting the scope of the consultation.
These late efforts to talk to boaters were launched after we forced CRT’s hand with a campaign of protest. The zones, if carried out, will drastically restrict mooring on the Lee, make the river nearly unmoorable for widebeams, and squeeze boaters into double-mooring zones where single-mooring is currently the norm.
The launch of the form follows stakeholder engagement sessions with liveaboard boaters on 21 and 25 May, led by independent facilitator Hopkins Van Mil. Further sessions will be held with boaters and other stakeholders in July.
This is a success for the campaign and we need as many boaters as possible to fill in the form to voice our objections and make ourselves heard. Spread the word!
On Sunday 9 th May, Boaters from all over London and the River Lee gathered on Walthamstow Marshes to protest against CRT’s proposed ‘Water Safety Zones’ and to plan the next stage of action against them. An estimated 200 people joined across the five hour protest picnic, including many passers-by and local people who expressed sympathy with our cause.
A round circle discussion in the afternoon brought new faces and new ideas to the campaign. NBTA members left with renewed optimism that CRT will not be allowed to curb our livelihoods by imposing mooring restrictions within the zones.
And that wasn’t the only outcome. The day following the protest picnic, CRT announced that they are postponing the implementation of the so-called Water Safety Zones while they speak to stakeholders. NBTA’s collective action is forcing them to listen to us.
After powerful demonstrations of collective boater resistance at both of the proposed “safety” zones, the Canal and River Trust (CRT) has agreed to open a formal consultation on the Water Safety Zones, with the participation of representatives from NBTA London and other stakeholders.
While a consultation is a step in the right direction, we believe it can only be successful if CRT provides the data supporting the existence of a safety issue. Thus far, this data has not been forthcoming. NBTA London shall participate in the consultation process, but questions the possible success of a consultation which continues to be based on an unproved claim.
We believe that the Safety Zones as currently framed should be scrapped, and any measures coming out of the consultation should be non-harmful to the lives and wellbeing of liveaboard boaters without home moorings, developed with the input of our community.
Our next protest is on Sunday 13 June
Note to media: press release here
PROTEST EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES LINED UP FOR FLOTILLA ON SUNDAY 13 JUNE!
The flotilla protest is taking shape! We have music and other creative acts lined up for the day in celebration of boater culture and all of the ways in which boaters make London a richer and more diverse place.
JOIN US, BOATERS AND TOWPATH WALKERS!
- Boat flotilla convoy with live acts onboard (brass band, buskers, soundsystems), moving from Walthamstow Marshes to Hackney Wick and back
- March on the towpath alongside the flotilla
- Multiple NBTA stalls on the towpath with cakes for sale and passionate discussion for free
Afternoon gathering at Walthamstow Marshes:
- NBTA talk
- Live music (Village Butty roof stage):
- Gator Dogs Brass Band (7-piece New-Orleans style)
- Dub Righters (pop reggae)
- Chewy She (trash-electro-disco)
- Traditional folk band
- Family-friendly punk band
- Soundsystem boats
- Boater circus show
- Children’s activities
On Sunday 13 June 2021, boaters and canal wanderers alike will gather at Walthamstow Marshes to protest the CRT’s introduction of new mooring restrictions on the lower Lee and Broxbourne.
Boaters will move their boats to the Marshes and travel en masse to Hackney Wick, simultaneously celebrating boat culture and raising a fist to those who want to destroy it.
Towpath users can chat to boaters stationed on the towpath to find out more about the restrictions and our campaign to resist them.
When: Sunday 13 June, 11am for 12pm set-off
Where: Walthamstow Marshes, opposite Anchor and Hope
See facebook event here: Hackney Flotilla Protest | Facebook
OTHER WAYS TO HELP