The London branch of the National Bargee Traveller Association (NBTAL) has launched a new case-worker group in a bid to help London boaters who are affected by enforcement and the new Canal and River Trust (CRT) policy on refusing licences.
How can they help?
The case worker group keeps up to date with pooled knowledge of the current implementation of the new enforcement policy and the legal framework under which the policy sits, and can give assistance on ‘how far is far enough’ questions, re-licensing, sighting data queries, benefits, disability allowances and adjustments and other related advice.
Enforcement policy & ‘restricted’ licences
After a trial period when the new policy only affected new boaters on their first licence, CRT has recently announced that the new enforcement policy came into action for all boaters on the 1st May. Anyone having their licence renewed after that will fall under the new policy. CRT have stated that if a licence is renewed after the 1st May, they will look back over the previous year and make a decision as to whether you fit their current definition of “moving far enough and often enough”. If the boater fails this test they will refuse to renew their licence and will tell the boater to take a home mooring or remove their boat from the waters. If the boat isn’t removed and
is a live-aboard, then the next step is they will likely take the boater to court for having no licence and to seize the boat and remove it from the canal.
For an unspecified trial period, CRT are offering temporary 3 or 6-month “restricted” licences to affected boaters so they can “mend their ways”. This offer of restricted licences is “while boaters get used to the new regime”.
The NBTAL fears that in the future, CRT will simply refuse to renew licences with no restricted trial period offered. At a recent Canal User Group meeting, an NBTAL member asked the London enforcement manager how long the trial period would last and what happens afterwards and was told that “boaters would always be warned before we refuse to renew their licence.”
After a request from the NBTA, CRT have stopped charging premium rates for these “restricted” licences and the cost is now pro-rata to the full licence.
Volunteer case workers
Case workers can be contacted by email and are also available for a chat through a special helpline on 07974 298 958