All posts by nbtalondon

Volunteer organisation formed in 2009 campaigning and providing advice for itinerant boat dwellers on Britain’s inland and coastal waterways

CRT plans to get rid of 40% of litter bins

In a recent meeting between Canal & River Trust (CRT) and the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) London branch, CRT stated that they have a national plan to remove 40% of litter bins from the towpaths in order to reduce litter. They plan to keep them in storage and only reinstate them if litter continues to be a problem.

bin full

Sam Thomas, CRT’s London Customer Operations Manager, said that “there is equal evidence for and against having less bins”. To date, he hasn’t been able to share this evidence. When replying to anti-litter campaign group, Keep Britain Tidy, CRT blamed the “mistreatment” of bins as a reason to remove them:

“In London, a number of litter bins along the towpath were being mistreated and were being used by people to fly tip… This means the bins in question were overflowing… people walking along the towpath will have to carry their litter a little further to put it in a bin, or maybe eventake it home…”.

However, the plan to remove 40% of litter bins is a national policy, not just a London policy. It’s hard to argue that the “mistreatment” of litter bins in London is a good reason to take away bins nationally. Yet, CRT has already started removing litter bins. Two bins were removed in Cheshunt (Hertfordshire), one of which was next to the permanent ice cream boat. Another bin has been taken from a busy picnic area in Hackney (East London).

cheshunt bin take
Bin taken at Cheshunt

Keep Britain Tidy rightly called the move by CRT “concerning”.

keep britain tidy

It is already a struggle to find litter bins on the towpath, particularly in west London, yet there’s never a shortage of litter. So it would be interesting to see what evidence CRT has to support their view that less bins equals less litter. Many have suggested that emptying the bins more often would solve any “overflowing” issues, yet when questioned about the frequency at which bins are emptied, CRT’s vague response stated “some daily, some weekly, some depend on season”. This is simply not good enough – perhaps they should have a clear policy on emptying bins before they start removing them.

full in camden

Marcus Trower, the Deputy Chair of the NBTA said:

 

“When CRT told us about their plans to take away 40% of bins to reduce litter, I thought they were joking. Then to store them and put them back if it doesn’t work, sounds like a kind of dance routine with bins:

You put the bins in,

You take the bins out,

Store them for a bit,

And then put them back again.

 

This plan must be in CRT’s top 10 list of bad ideas. Think about the money CRT will spend on this dead end plan. If the public have nowhere to put their litter, it will be thrown on the ground, get into the water and end up around our propellers. I hope CRT has a serious rethink”.

over fill bin

Disabled Bargee Travellers – know your rights

Disabled Bargee Travellers – know your rights
If you are pregnant, on maternity, have a mental or physical disability, or are older you are entitled to have adjustments made to enable you to continue to live and own a boat on Britain’s waterways.
This is thanks to the Equality Act 2010 which means that the Canal and River Trust (or any other authority) cannot expect of you to meet their policies and procedures, including guidance in the same way that they would expect someone who did not fit into these characteristics.
For example, this means CRT shouldn’t tell you that you should not be living on a boat because you are disabled, “too old” or pregnant. These rights are in addition to the rights of all boaters without home moorings on CRT waterways to stay in one place longer than 14 days if it is “reasonable in the circumstances”. As a result of campaigning by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) and other groups, CRT has now adopted a standard procedure for assessing and agreeing adjustments to its enforcement procedure for boaters with disabilities.
Your boat license shouldn’t be terminated following enforcement action as your characteristic puts you at a substantial disadvantage. Don’t panic, you shouldn’t be made homeless if you follow our advice and keep the Canal and River Trust informed in writing.
Direct, combined and indirect discrimination defined by the Equality Act 2010
 
According to Equality Act 2010, direct discrimination occurs if a person is treated less favourably than others because of one or more of the protected characteristics defined in the Equality Act 2010.
If you are finding it difficult to keep in line with the conditions of your license due to a characteristic outlined in the Equality Act 2010 then this is the help sheet for you.
First off make sure you keep up good written communication and contact your local Boat License Officer (Enforcement Officer) via email.
If you are unable to do this get in touch with our caseworkers and we can speak on your behalf.
London Area;
West:
Leiam.Walsh@CanalRiverTrust.org
Central:
Tom.Jackson@CanalRiverTrust.org
East:
Nick.Wattam@CanalRiverTrust.org
North-East:
Kevin.ONeill@CanalRiverTrust.org
You may also want to copy in the Welfare Officer:
Sean.Williams@CanalRiverTrust.org
  • The Canal and River Trust should ask if you require an adjustment however we suggest you do inform them yourself.
  • The Canal should ask if you require an adjustment however we suggest you do inform them yourself.
What is reasonable in the circumstances cannot be defined in advance but if an adjustment is recommended from a GP, physical or psychological assessment, ATOS or supporting benefits document or other such Professional Authority then this should be taken as reasonable.
For example:
Pregnancy might mean you need to be near an area before, during and after birth for trips to visit the midwife. You may also request a period of non-movement after you have given birth.
Chronic illness (which must be on going over a period 12 months or longer) may require treatment, in which case a reduced range can be agreed upon.
Your disability may mean that you are only able to access specific areas, for instance if you find it difficult to open locks due to a physical ailment then a cruising pattern with minimal locks can be agreed upon.
If you are older and require adjustments such as use of a mobility scooter and would need to moor in areas which can accommodate access to you boat such as visitor moorings where you will be entitled to stay for the full 14 days or longer where reasonable in the circumstances.
  • If you need additional help people can support you in this process.
If you feel you are unable to manage your adjustment request someone can speak or organise emails on your behalf this can be a relative, friend or a caseworker. You will need to let the Boat Licensing Support team know whom will be representing you and provide signed form of authority;
FORM OF AUTHORITY
 
I, ____________________________________
of Boat Name:_________________________________________,
Boat Number:___________________,
hereby give authority for members of the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) caseworkers to represent me and act on my behalf with regards to my dealings with the Canal and River Trust (CRT). In regards to these dealings, I hereby give consent for the NBTA Caseworkers Group to the disclosure of my records with CRT.
 
Signed:
____________________________
 
Dated: ______________________
  • Once you have started the process of requesting a reasonable adjustment you will receive the following email:
To enable us to consider your request, I would be grateful if you could provide in writing, within 28 days of this letter:-
 
i)             Evidence of your disability in the form of a letter from your GP;
Medical evidence should not just state the condition that you currently have, but give some indication about how this might affect mobility or ability to move your boat.
 
ii)    A written description from you of how your disability makes it more difficult for you to comply with our Guidance for Boats without a Home Mooring;
 
Provide a description of your condition and how this limits your ability to have a movement pattern that we would normally expect of a continuous cruiser, as well as detailing how the adjustment you are requesting would improve your situation/ or how it would help.
 
iii)           Confirmation of the adjustment that you are requesting the Trust to make.
 
Be specific about the adjustment you are looking for. 
 
For example you may want us to consider an adjustment to your cruising pattern to enable you to attend treatment at a particular hospital.  It would also be useful if you could give an indication of how long you believe that you would need the adjustment for.
The team will then review your requests for adjustment and reply with their conclusions regarding your requested adjustments.
Remember you know yourself and your capability best and should you be unhappy with the adjustments the Boat Licensing Support are prepared to make then you will need to raise a complaint and which point be sure to copy the Welfare Officer in.
Please refer to CRT complaints procedure help sheet for further advice and guidance which is to be found on our website:
Or you can contact our case workers for further help and advice:
Nbta.London.caseworker@gmail.com
or call us on 07974298958

Housing Benefits for boats (helpsheet)

Housing Benefits
1.You will need to contact the Canal and River Trust if you are facing hardship or difficult making payments of your license, otherwise it is not essential for you to inform them of your use of housing benefits to pay for your license.
Remember, to obtain a license remember that you will need a Boat Safety Certificate and appropriate insurance to be legally entitled to a license.
2.Contact your local council authority, there is as of yet no online way of applying for Housing Benefits as a boater. This will mean you will need to organise an appointment with someone in the correct department.
London Boroughs:

 

  • Housing Benefits: London Boroughs on the canal:

Grand Union

Hillingdon, Hayes, Ealing, Brent, Hammersmith and Fullham, Kensignton and Chelsea, Westminster

Regents Canal

Camden, Isligton, Hackney, Tower Hamlets

Limehouse Cut

Tower Hamlets, Newham

River Lea

Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Enfield

3. Once you have an appointment you will need to take some supporting evidence including information regarding the payment of your license this can be a break down of monthly payments for you license, you can print out the license fees for Private Leisure Boats from the Canal and River Trust website or contact them by phone to have something sent to you in the post.
In the past boaters have also gotten their Boat Safety and insurance covered in the cost of you Housing Benefits. If you wish to have these covered as well you must evidence the monthly costings of this with a paper document. You will also need to inform them that you will be remaining in their borough, if they do not think you will be travelling in your borough they may use that as grounds to refuse you housing benefits.
To reinforce your right to claim housing benefits you will also need to quote:
Statutory Instrument 2007 no 2870 Housing Benefit (Local Housing Allowance, Miscellaneous and Consequential) Amendment Regulations states at Regulation 12 that rent includes
“Rent 12(1) ….
(d) payments in respect of, or in consequence of, use and occupation of the dwelling ….
(f) mooring charges payable for a houseboat….”
This entitles you by law to have your license paid for through housing benefits.
Remember you will need a care of address also, but this doesn’t have to be in the borough you apply for the housing benefits.
You will also need to ensure you take a paper copy of your completed application, any references of application, contact details and a full name of the officer you had your appointment with.
Need help
 
You can appointment someone to communication on your behalf with regards to your benefits request by printing and signing a Form of Authority:
 
FORM OF AUTHORITY
Claimants name:

Claimants Address:

Postcode:

I/We hereby authorise the Benefit Service to disclose information regarding my claim to:

Name:
Postcode:

Claimant’s signature: Relationship to Claimant:
Contact number: 

If you are in need to housing benefits immediately and under threat of homelessness you will need to speed along your housing benefits and also get them back dated, but you can only do this by one month previous to the date of application.
To speed up your application you will need to let them know you are at risk of becoming homeless and request that your application be expedited, we advise at which point you seek further advise from our caseworkers by contacting us on: 0797429858 or email us on nbta.london.caseworker@gmail.com

Refusal of Housing Benefits
If you apply for Housing Benefit and your application is refused, you should appeal quoting the bellow information including the SSCSA Tribunal cases. There is a 28-day limit for appealing against a refusal of Housing Benefit.
In the cases below in which appeals were decided by the Social Security and Child Support Commissioners, the Commissioners decided that Housing Benefit was payable for the boat licence fee under (d) above, in some cases together with the mooring fee.
In CH 0318 2005, the boater did not have a mooring and was continuously cruising. He stated that he was in breach of his licence conditions but the Commissioners found that irrelevant. The important point is that for the majority of the time his home was within the local authority’s area.
In CH 4250 2006, the boater was awarded Housing Benefit even though he did not have planning permission to live on the mooring and this included benefit for a period when his mooring agreement had been terminated but he was still occupying the mooring as a trespasser and BW charged him for that period. If he had been a trespasser and BW had not demanded mooring fees for the time he was trespassing, obviously Housing Benefit would not have been payable for that period. This, incidentally establishes the principle that Planning Permission is not required in order to obtain Housing Benefit.
CH 0844 2002 established the principle that the boat licence fee qualified under (d) but the boater also claimed for the mooring fee in that particular case as he had a mooring.

Support NBTA London National Bargee Travellers Association

The NBTA is an organisation open to all but is run by people who live on their boats and travel, 12 months a year and as part of their lifestyle, in other words not just for the summer and not just for fun.

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Our community has few specific rights in law and navigation authorities do not always respect our homes; they are progressively imposing tougher restrictions on Bargee Travellers even when these are not lawful. Every year boat dwellers are evicted and their boats seized. No one should be made homeless, including boat dwellers.

Originally, most people living on boats on the UK’s waterways were working people on low incomes. Now, the waterways are increasingly developed in favor of profitable property developments and the leisure industry, rather than meeting our needs as a community and we need to be hot on a variety of stratergies to ensure the legacy of our way of life continues.

We can do this by working for more facilities such as water taps and rubbish disposal. There needs to better upkeep of locks and bridges, and proper maintenance of the water bank so that boats can moor alongside them in more places.

The NBTA is an open organisation which aims to defend and improve our community’s way of life.

The NBTA London is campaigning for the rights of boat dwellers and are fundraising to cover basic costs such as awareness raising, printing, meetings and importantly, helping other boaters.  Please help us to continue our work.

Here are the sort of things we spend the money we raise on:

  • Printing – newsletters, placards and flyers.
  • Caseworker Office/ storage.
  • Public Events: info parties like Winter Warmer and the Towpath Gathering; food, fuel, room bookings, travel for visiting speakers.

In the future we would also like to make contributions to travel expenses of the volunteers who work tirelessly to attend meetings with Policy makers, developers, councils and the Canal and River Trust.

Follow this link https://www.youcaring.com/nbtalondon-760429

 

Kind regards,

Helen Delmar

Treasurer of NBTA London

The National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) is a volunteer organisation that campaigns and provides support and advice for boat dwellers without permanent moorings on Britain’s inland and coastal waterways. The term ‘Bargee Traveller’ includes any person whose only or main home is a boat and who does not have a permanent residential mooring for their boat.

 

To vote in the 2017 General Election, register by 22nd May

Bargee Travellers who want to vote in the General Election on 8th June 2017 can register to vote by declaring a local connection. You need to register by 22nd May. Anybody who does not have a fixed or a residential address can register this way. However you cannot register to vote online if you are declaring a local connection.

Here is the voter registration form to download and use anywhere in England and Wales Electoral Registration Generic NFA

Send the form by post to the Electoral Registration Officer of the local authority where you have declared a local connection. You will find the Electoral Registration Officer’s address on the local authority’s web site and at the nearest library. You don’t need an address to vote; you can use the electoral registration office’s address for mail relating to elections, such as voting cards, and collect these in person.

RBOA calls for waterways authorities to break the law

After RBOA press release; http://www.rboa.org.uk/continuous-cruising-a-new-approach-from-the-rboa/

NBTA London’s response;

Residential Boat Owners’ Association (RBOA) seems to want all waterway authorities to act beyond the British Waterways Act 1995. Their online statement states that the ‘RBOA is well aware of the inadequacy of the British Waterways Act 1995 in providing a legal framework covering continuous cruising’. We can see why RBOA thinks this from their online statement; they want to redefine navigation in the same way the Canal and River Trust (CRT) want to include an element of distance for boats without a home mooring as a gauge of navigation. RBOA states an example of using distance as a gauge of navigation by saying they would be in favour of boats without a home mooring completing a ‘progressive journey’ ‘that would equate to 200 and 300 miles per year’. This is why RBOA thinks that the 1995 Act isn’t good enough.

The RBOA’s preference for a 200-300 mile distance comes from a place of prejudice. Prejudice against working people who are travelling boaters; against bargee traveller families; and boaters who are physically or mentally ill, as opposed to those boaters who use the waterways as a place for their hobbies or leisure who may have a boat as a second home. The waterways are a place for a range of people and they are not just for a certain kind of person.

The RBOA’s statement talks of London (and Bath) having too many boats; and a dislike of boats without home moorings ‘with having lifestyle connections with one place – for example: education of children, employment or health needs’. This is very telling of the intentions for their envisioned rules. Their intentions are to get rid of a sizeable part of the boaters without home mooring community.

RBOA seems to have no interest in the law, not just the 1995 Act but the Equality Act 2010. The Equality Act 2010 states that equality adjustment should be made by bodies as such as CRT for people with health needs in order to address unequal opportunity. To demand that all waterway authorities should act against people without home moorings that need to be in a certain area because of health needs is a demand that waterway authorities should break the law under the Equality Act 2010.

The NBTA is against demands for more rules on boats without a home mooring and if these demands are left unchallenged, it would encourage waterway authorities to push off a sizeable part of our community off the waterways. We will need to keep a watchful eye on CRT and other waterways authorities who want to use this as an excuse for any changes to enforcement which puts more pressure on boat dwellers without home moorings. NBTA will act against any increase in enforcement.

Boat Dwellers refuse to be kicked off the waterways

The national Boats Are Homes; demonstration on Saturday 8th April 2017 was organised in defence of the boat dweller community in face of Canal and River Trust (CRT) threatening or actually evicting boat dwellers for their distance or pattern of movement.

Saturday’s march had a strong and diverse turnout of 150- 200 boat dwellers including families, couples, individual boaters and their drums, chants, whistles and loud-halers from all over the waterways. The demonstration was lively and angry with a strong sense of solidarity and feeling like we can make a change.

We handed in the petition against CRT’s intensified enforcement to Number 10, Downing Street. Nearly 35,000 signed the petition. We then marched on further to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to hand in a letter demanding that the Government takes responsibility in stopping CRT enacting what we believe is an unlawful CRT enforcement policy. People spoke from different parts of the waterways, and we were unified not only by a sense of countrywide boat dweller community, but also by the general threat to rid the waterways of boat dwellers. Oxford boat dwellers spoke about their successful campaign to stop the Council’s plan to effectively make our way of life a criminal offence in Oxford. The demonstration was mainly focused on the CRT actions to threaten or actually evict boat dwellers from their CRT managed waterways. One of the most virulent campaigns against the intensification of the CRT enforcement policy is the easing off of the effects on boat families and to allow their children equal access to school. This is a key reason why so many boat dweller families came to the demonstration.

Many believe that the heightened enforcement from CRT has a direct correlation with CRT’s continuing gentrification and privatisation of the waterways.

The coming together of boat dwellers from all over the country for a common purpose gave confidence and enthusiasm to many of the people attending to take further actions in defence of our community.

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More public towpath set to be taken in Paddington

In Paddington (London) CRT is planning to turn 140ft of the public towpath
moorings into private business moorings that would be run by multi-billion
real estate investment company, British Land. This is just the latest
example of the gentrification of our waterways.

British Land made a profit of £1331 million last year. Its property
portfolio was valued at £14.66 billion according to its most recent annual
report(2).

Protesters have tied up their boats to the moorings where British
Land plans to take 140ft of the public towpath with its two new 70ft
business boats. British Land already has an 80ft business boat near to
where they plan to put the new boats.

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