On Wednesday 9 December NBTA London chaired a conversation in public with CRT and London based boaters. Thank you to those of the 40 people that came and contributed. It was a productive forum with some direct questions asked by us and some straight answers given by CRT.
Now that plans have been announced and public conversation has begun in such a forum with the NBTA London, you can join the Facilities Working Group found at http://nbta.boaterpedia.co.uk/
The deep scepticism towards CRT among many boaters who live aboard without a home mooring is a result of the past sabotaging, blocking and discriminating action from Canal & River Trust and British Waterways before them.
Whilst this scepticism is founded, we also need an openness to possibility – the possibility of negotiation, discussion, focused demands, clear questions and relentless seeking of transparency from CRT.
At the public facilities meeting CRT’s Customer Operations Manager Sam Thomas and Boaters’ Liaison Officer, Sorwar Ahmed demonstrated a willingness on the part of CRT to be in ongoing direct communication with boaters and to listen to and work with us in getting what we want. I recorded the entire meeting. This is one of the things that Sorwar said:
“…the Trust is not trying to get continuous cruisers off the waterway in any shape or form. We are fully behind you as a new group of boaters – the growing number of continuous cruisers – you might look at it as the future of the waterway.”
The Trust needs to work harder at gaining trust.
There was still vagueness in some answers, and much more discussion is warranted particularly around navigation and mooring facilities. With mediation and continued pressure from NBTA, we can strive for transparency, for boaters to be heard, for CRT to follow things through and work together with CRT and the wider boating community.
CRT was asked prior to the meeting – what was going to be different this time that CRT are opening up discussions of ideas that had previously been mooted at Better Relationship Groups and other meetings. Sam Thomas said at the meeting that the difference is that their “priorities have now changed”. What’s the real different is that CRT are now pressurised by NBTA.
After years of taking our facilities, taking our mooring spaces and an enforcement policy which puts some boaters under threat of eviction, we need action from CRT, not words alone. We will keep the pressure on the Trust to ensure they keep their promises.
The minutes from this meeting will be available soon.
Photos taking by Dave Roberts