Boaters already affected by a lack of water, rubbish and toilet facilities across the UK are protesting as more facilities are removed in London.
A tow-path gathering on Sunday 27th March at Stonebridge in Tottenham bore witness to increasing frustration amongst boaters in London. Through the day almost 70 members of the community and local residents battled the wind and rain to come together to discuss their options, in a situation where the necessities for living a decent life on the water are being taken away, and boaters feel that their plight is ignored.
Boaters pay substantial license fees to the Canal and River Trust (CRT) and rely on them to provide water taps, rubbish points and toilet facilities. Access to facilities however, is now being removed and restricted, and boaters are increasingly forced to endure primitive and unsanitary conditions.
CRT made a surplus of £39.4 million in 2014/15, these figures were taken from the 2014/15 Annual Report, and it is noted that they hold a reserve fund of £660 million. CRT can easily afford to install more facilities for boaters, but earlier this year, CRT demolished water tap, toilet facilities and rubbish point at Waltham Cross.
CRT are now restricting the opening hours of the toilets and showers further down the Lee in Stonebridge, despite attempts by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) to negotiate with CRT to try to prevent this.
Facilities have been removed on the River Lee before, and with planned redevelopment at Hackney Wick, there are fears that this will only continue to get worse.
With areas being privatised, facilities being removed and a population that has grown, many boaters feel they are being pushed out by CRT.
The event at Stonebridge was also a celebration of the boater community, and included music, crafts, public speakers and homemade food.