While CRT lies, We defy!

On September 1 st 2021, Canal and River Trust (CRT) climbed down on implementing their River Lee “Safety Zones” proposals, which would have effectively removed 550 mooring spaces between Tottenham & Old Ford Locks and in Broxbourne. Citing safety, particularly that of rowers from the rowing clubs on these two stretches, and fair use of the navigation, the proposals were founded on sketchy data and only negatively affected boaters, and especially boaters without home moorings.

The pushback against the proposals by the boating community in London and beyond, described in an online meeting by CRT London and South-East Regional Director Ros Daniels as “these people”, eventually forced CRT into an independently moderated stakeholder engagement exercise. This only happened because boaters came together to organise against the zones; in the “These People” Zoom meeting CRT showed no willingness to compromise on their proposals.

The engagement report, also published on September 1 st , highlighted CRT’s total disregard for the needs of boaters on the river Lee and made six headline recommendations. One of these was to create a navigation forum of stakeholders to explore safety concerns and solutions. CRT accepted the findings of the report, effectively leaving their proposals in

In the matter of a few months, boaters managed to force CRT into an humiliating retreat from a key policy initiative which would have negatively impacted our ability to remain on the water. Quite rightly, the boating community celebrated this victory and the power of their collective action. NBTA London were invited to put forward representatives for the navigation forum, and two boaters were selected to take part.

As well as the navigation forum recommendation, the engagement moderators Hopkins Van Mil (HVM) recommended that CRT properly enforce existing rules and regulations. In typical CRT fashion, they have sidestepped the report by finding their own loophole to justify what they want to do anyway. Just a month after the report, CRT has taken this as a cue to enforce all the stretches earmarked as “no mooring” in their safety zones – over 3000 metres on the Lower Lee and 1300 metres at Broxbourne. And they are outsourcing much of the enforcement to District Enforcement.

CRT seem to have failed to learn from getting their nose bloodied over the initial “safety zone” debacle. Instead of consulting on which of these no mooring sites are reasonable – and some of them might be – they are instead trying to barge through what is effectively a watered down version of a proposal which united thousands of boaters against them.

We continue to be “these people”.

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