The travelling boat dweller community (Bargee Travellers) is under pressure from navigation authorities and some local authorities to abandon their boats and their way of life. The Canal & River Trust (CRT), which manages 80% of Britain’s inland waterways, has imposed draconian policies that threaten many with eviction. How far boat dwellers travel and their pattern of movement are being used by CRT to evict boaters. At the same time CRT is removing an increasing number of mooring spaces. CRT is also selling off parts of the towpath, again reducing the number of mooring spaces. At the same time CRT is reducing the maximum stay time in some places from 14 days to as little as 48 hours or 24 hours. These actions by CRT have put undue pressure on many boat dwellers and have forced some to stop living on the waterways.
On waterways managed by the Environment Agency (EA) and other navigation authorities where in some cases riverside land is owned by local authorities, much the same is happening. Boat dwellers are being evicted from these waterways. Some local authorities have passed by-laws making it illegal to moor for longer than 24 hours. The EA has recently imposed a 24 hour time limit for mooring on the majority of its land.
In some places, evictions have paved the way for new luxury waterside flats. Many of the attacks are on par with the gentrification that is happening on land. However, boat dwellers also face added difficulties in accessing education, healthcare and employment, in a system that does not cater for their needs. Even on the waterways boat dwellers’ needs are not met. There is a chronic shortage of water taps, places to empty boat dwellers’ toilets and rubbish points.
We, the undersigned, demand that navigation and other authorities stop these attacks on the travelling boat dweller community.
We fully support stopping the evictions of boat dwellers affected by these attacks.
We also request that all boat dwellers needs for access to healthcare, education and employment are met as far as is reasonably possible.
We request that facilities such as water taps, places to empty boat dwellers’ toilets and rubbish points are provided to at least suit the needs of boat dwellers.