On Saturday (17 April) the Lea River at Broxbourne was filled with a flotilla of boats, all protesting against Canal and River Trust’s absurd and falsely named new ‘Safety Zones’. The Protest included boaters from all over the London region and beyond, including representatives from Broxbourne’s own Cruising Club. A ‘towpath protest’ of boaters and non boaters followed in their wake, raising awareness of CRTs discriminatory policy changes, and how they threaten people’s livelihoods. Support from the local community was passionate, with many affirming how they love the boats, and see no need to introduce these confusing and unnecessary ‘Safety Zones’.

The NBTA argues that the policy is profoundly ill-conceived, particularly in the context of a housing crisis and a pandemic. They also argue that evacuated canals will turn the towpaths into the danger zones they once were, prior to the growth in the boating population.

“Three-quarters of rowing safety incidents occur between two rowers rather than between rowers and boaters. The relationship between moored boats and rowing safety incidents is very weak, if there is any relationship at all” argues Ian McDowell, chair of the London branch of the NBTA. “The CRT has provided very limited data to justify this policy,” he continues, “and yet the impact on the boating community will be drastic. Many boats in London are homes. These planned ‘safety zones’ will displace many boat dwellers from these areas.”

Many boaters believe that the ‘safety zone’ policy is part of a larger attempt to drive them off the waterways. CRT aims to introduce policy proposals later in the year aimed at ‘managing boat numbers.’

Boaters say they have asked the CRT for the data they have used to calculate an ‘optimal’ number of boats, but have been met with silence. They say they are left to conclude that the CRT’s various manoeuvres are motivated by an underlying prejudice against nomadic communities and that this prejudice will have dire consequences for the London boating community.


  1. I live on my boat in the Cheshire/Staffordshire corner of England and I am (currently, still) being chased for not moving sufficiently to C&RT’s taste during the past year – pandemic AND my sticking to a written cruising agreement with the Local “Enforcement” Officer ignored and reneged upon. In the past four months of back and forth I very much get the impression from the illogic, the non-sequiturs and the obdurate, chin-out, little fists clenched determination of C&RT to not acknowledge reality that there is a corporation-wide policy to make life unpleasant if at all possible for live-aboards everywhere. Ain’t “just” London, tis just that London is feeling the full effects first. The folk that I have been dealing with give the impression of having had their orders from the Corporation Chairman et al. Live-aboard boaters are not wanted anywhere on the system. JMHO.

    p.s., great protest!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company. and commented:
    The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd dreams of nothing more than a series of disconnected corporation park ponds for use by anglers, paddleboarders, weekenders and holiday hire companies – with cyclists and joggers using concrete and tarmac paths alongside. London is being “cleansed”.

    To use an example – there is wide and longstanding and undisputed evidence that a lot of car accidents could be avoided but drivers just don’t react quickly enough – because they don’t believe what is in front of their eyes; that another vehicle is invading their space, even head-on. Same thing with society in general, and that’s why governments and corporations and even individuals get away with so much; nobody believes what they are seeing, until it’s too late.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s