The Canal and River Trust (CRT), which manages about 80% of the inland waterways, is continuing its policy of threatening to evict and evicting travelling boat dwellers.
In response to this, the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) organised an event in East London called the Towpath Gathering to celebrate the community of travelling boaters. We converted one of the larger boats into a floating stage for the day and there was a wide range of music acts, speeches from the boater community and other housing activists, as well as street performers. Along with trade boats, we demonstrated that our community is worth celebrating and protecting. About 200 people attended the event despite the wet weather.
Housing activists from the local area came to the Towpath Gathering to support the campaign to stop the evictions of boat dwellers.
Pat Turnbull the chair of a local residents association, the Victoria Community Association said at the event;
‘You are also victims, like us and our families, of the housing crisis.
The housing crisis has been brought about by years of reliance on the market and cuts in government funding for housing provisions.’
‘The Canal and River Trust was turned into a charity starved of government funding, making it need more money from mainly private business.’
NBTA spokesperson, said,
‘The push to get more money from private business, means the Canal and River Trust is more interested in commercial needs rather than the needs of people that live on the waterways. This is where their policy comes from. They [CRT] want to please commercial needs.’
‘Many travelling boat dwellers are feeling the negative impact of Canal and River Trust policy, a policy which only makes sense if you believe they wish to get rid of our way of life and our community.
The Towpath Gathering was a celebration of the strength of our community and an opportunity to bring boaters together to fight to protect it.’