Out with the new, in with the same old…

In the Canal and River Trust’s (CRT) current statements about ‘Managing Boat Numbers’, statistics from 2010 are being used in comparison to today’s boat numbers. However, boat numbers were still considered much too high by the waterway’s authority at that time, British Waterways (BW). BW felt that there were “more boats moored along the Lee than are desirable”.

In 2010/2011 a campaign was launched against boats without home moorings on the River Lea and Stort. BW proposed dividing these rivers into eight zones, six on the Lea and two on the Stort. Regulations stated that boaters needed to move on to the next zone (neighborhoods) after a set time limit (generally seven days), and not to turn round unless at the end of the navigation. If a boater didn’t follow these bizarre rules, they would find themselves under enforcement actions which could eventually lead to eviction.

This outraged boaters, who packed themselves into a BW public meeting where the Head of Boating, Sally Ash, tried to sell the idea. BW’s representatives were met with dismay and anger from boaters. For BW the meeting was a disaster. Many boaters realised that if BW were to get their way, it would have been the beginning of the end of our community as we know it. The meeting was a success, though, for boaters. Boaters’ unity was to prove the key antidote to BW’s plans. Many flocked to the organisation London Boaters (LB) to take on BW plans. A massive public meeting was organised, and was attended by hundreds of boaters, all riled up and ready to take on BW’s plans. Working groups were formed including
press, outreach, and direct action, a regular newsletter was published and a boater-run survey of boat dwellers, local land residents, local businesses, joggers, walkers, kayakers and more was carried-out. LB’s own surveys eventually showed clear majorities were against BW’s proposal.

BW eventually buckled under the continuing pressure of LB. BW backed down, their plans discarded in the litter bin of history. However, we now find CRT – all of ten years later – attempting to reimpose kind of idea ‘mooring zones’. Could this indicate that CRT have been rooting around in those bins?

Let’s make sure CRT put these ‘new ideas’ back in the bin!

London Boaters action in 2011 against BW’s plans .
Picture taken by London Boaters

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