A SMALL VICTORY FOR BOATERS WITHOUT HOME MOORINGS

A SMALL VICTORY FOR BOATERS WITHOUT HOME MOORINGS

Following lobbying by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA), CRT stated on 23rd April 2015 that it will only charge boaters who have been forced to take a 3 or 6 month licence the 12-month fee pro rata instead of the advertised higher relative cost of its shorter licences. This follows a recent meeting between NBTA and CRT’s new Head of Customer Service when the NBTA raised the issue that boaters who were refused 12-month licences following enforcement action were being forced to pay a higher relative amount. Ian Rogers said “those people who find that CRT have only offered a 3 or 6 month licence will be charged a pro rata amount of the full licence fee”. The NBTA recommends that boaters who have been charged a premium for a shorter licence in these circumstances should make a formal complaint requesting a refund of the balance.

islington lock

The NBTA met privately with Mr Rogers but so far has not been invited to the regular meetings between CRT and other boating user groups. Contrary to recent allegations, the NBTA did not hijack or disrupt the CRT 10-year Strategy open meeting on 25th April. Some seven NBTA members were present at the meeting. At least eight others attended who had similar concerns to those raised by the NBTA. They each voiced disagreement with CRT’s new policy towards boaters without home moorings and the changes to the boat licence terms and conditions. The fact that so many unaffiliated live-aboard boaters as well as NBTA members took the trouble to attend shows the level of disquiet and anger about the effects of CRT’s policy changes on boat dwellers both with and without home moorings.

NBTA members attended the meeting in the hope of influencing CRT’s 10-year strategy to include reversing its unlawful new policy for boaters without home moorings and to raise other issues of concern about CRT’s actions. This also included handing out leaflets and alerting people that vulnerable boaters are still at risk of losing their homes. It rapidly became clear that there was no real opportunity for boaters without home moorings to influence the 10-year strategy and the meeting was little more than a public relations exercise.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

  1. For more information contact the NBTA, press@bargee-traveller.org.uk or 0118 321 4128.
  1. The NBTA is a volunteer organisation that campaigns and provides advice for itinerant boat dwellers on the UK’s inland and coastal waters.
  1. An example of the premium that a boater without a home mooring has been made to pay for being forced to take a 6-month licence is an additional £100 over 6 months for a licence renewed on 1st February 2015.
  1. This is one of the questions that the NBTA asked regarding CRT’s 10-year strategy, which sums up the organisation’s concerns:

In unlawfully setting a minimum distance and refusing to renew the licences of boaters without home moorings who don’t travel that distance, CRT is proposing to destroy lives against its strategic aim of “enriching lives”, by evicting boat dwellers and seizing boats. To apply this policy retrospectively adds further injustice.

CRT seems to be alienating all live-aboards, given what an enforcement officer recently described as “something in the pipeline” to deal with live-aboards on leisure moorings. The number of leisure boaters is inevitably going to decline due to their average age and higher retirement ages, and given the increasing demand among younger people for residential boating.

Why does CRT’s 10-year strategy not include welcoming continuous cruisers who travel within a local area, provided that they adhere to the 14-day rule, as that is the best way of attracting younger boaters?

  1. Boats can be licensed to use Canal & River Trust’s waterways without a permanent mooring under Section 17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. This section states:

(ii) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

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