Category Archives: Housing

NBTA General Meeting

This meeting is to decide what the NBTA does in general.

This will be on the Saturday 21 November at the Quaker Meeting House, 150 Church Rd, Watford WD17 4QB (near Watford
Junction Station). Registration starts at 9.30am, the General Meeting ends at 6pm. There are going to be breaks in-between, including lunch .

If you would like to come to the General Meeting, please book a place as soon as possible by emailing secretariat@bargee- traveller.org.uk or phoning 0118 321 4128. We need to keep the venue informed of the numbers so please let us know in advance if you wish to attend.

Further travel directions etc. will be sent out on booking.

Why localised agreements on distance and place are dangerous

Voluntary agreements between boating groups and  the Canal and River Trust can be legally significant to the detriment of all boaters, says London NBTA.

There have been cases in the past where the Canal and River Trust has put pressure on local boater community organisations and boaters representative meetings to ‘fix’ the definition of ‘place’ in the 14 day limit legislation and to define the amount of distance a boat needs to move to avoid enforcement. logo Currently the 14 day limit in the 1995 British Waterways Act should be the legal underpinning of any enforcement that CRT take against boats without a home mooring. The main legal powers available to CRT amount to Section 17 (ii) of the BW Act, which states that CRT must licence boaters with no home mooring as long  as they use it  “bona fide for navigation (for the period of the license) without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.” In other words, boats without a home mooring have to move to a new place at least every 14 days.

However, CRT often act to undercut this basic rule. One of the ways they have done it in the past is by supplementing ‘guidance’ to the rule, by agreeing definitions of distance and place with both individual boaters and groups of boaters and, it appears, more recently by adding terms and conditions to the boat licence that are potentially beyond what the law says is required. Currently, in the London area, we have had the trial ‘place’ maps proposed and rejected by Boaters groups involved in CRT ‘Better Relationships Meetings’, and – more recently – by agreeing individual bespoke ‘cruising plans’ with boaters who are threatened with enforcement and having their license terminated. The problem is that such agreements and possibly long standing and unchallenged licence terms and conditions, – even though they may be localized and agreed by both parties – can have an knock on effect on legal cases and could affect all boaters.

The following hypothetical case study could illustrate why: Boaters on the river Ooze and CRT have a nice cup of tea together and a local voluntary agreement is made that boaters need to clock up at least 24 miles a year with no return to any given place more than twice a year. Places are voluntarily defined, marked on a map and are roughly about a mile long.

However, Boater A, on narrowboat ‘Kropotkin’, does not agree with voluntary agreements about distance, 24 miles is too far for her because she has no car, just a bicycle, and has to get her child to primary school and hold down a part time job anyway. she decides to ignore the voluntary agreement, she wasn’t invited to the meeting anyway, and follows her usual pattern. In one year, she moves 12 miles, moving at least every 14 days, logs her movements and returns to one place three times.  

Unfortunately, she gets enforced, and CRT applies to the County Court for confirmation that their section 8 powers to remove the boat may be exercised in the circumstances, to allow them to haul her boat out of the canal. Boater A (or their lawyer) argues that the guidance is voluntary and she chose to ignore it as she didn’t consider it to be a fair interpretation of the 1995 BW Act and would also have found it hard to get her kids to school. CRT’s lawyer argues to the judge that their interpretation of the BW 1995 Act Section 17 (3)(c)(ii), – AKA ‘the 14 day rule’ –  in this particular case, is an extremely reasonable one, is actually less than the act requires and is based on the voluntary agreement made between themselves and “reasonable” boaters on the River Ooze. Other “reasonable” boaters, they say, some of whom have kids, are abiding by this voluntary agreement with no problems, but boater A is a troublemaker and is abusing both the law and the goodwill of the other boaters, they say. If the judge does not grant the order, they say, he will be disregarding the wishes of the “reasonable” boaters and endangering CRT’s ability to manage the canal. (yes I know claimant goes first – but give me a narrative break!)

The judge considers the arguments and grants the order. Boater A can either appeal or loses her home. She may even be chased by CRT for costs. If she appeals and loses, then, depending on the wording of the judgement and the rank and self-importance of the judge, the guidance may even set legal precedent. This legal precedence can then ‘fix’ the interpretation of the legislation for County courts and be used by CRT lawyers as a very very strong steer in other appeal cases, and not just on the river Ooze, but nationally.

According to a senior lawyer experienced in boaty legal cases, this case study “illustrates the danger of the knock on effects of local voluntary agreements.” He added that: “A county court or high court decision is strictly speaking, not a precedent, albeit it may be ‘persuasive’. CRT like to try and rely on BWB v Davies (a previous court case that explored distance and place) even though that is only County Court and the judge specifically refused to pass comment on the continuous cruising guidance. ”

London NBTA is compiling research on bespoke individual agreements made with individual boaters under threat of non-licence renewal or other penalties. Please get in touch with us in confidence at NBTA London  nbtalondon@gmail.com if you are in this situation.

***THIS SATURDAY JOIN THE BOATERS BLOC!!***

Nbta London's photo.

Everywhere you go in London redevelopments are happening making the housing needs for people harder.

The waterways are not excluded from this. Around Central London there is pressure to move out boaters so that property prices are not negatively effected. However, we need more mooring rings.

The whole of the navigable waters of the Bow Back Rivers was taken from us for the Olympics. Now it is only open to some trip boats and with plans to turn it into just 24 hours moorings. This should be open again to all with 14 days moorings.

There has been great reduction of facilities across the waterways. In time where there is more boats, we need more facilities. Places like West London are lacking facilities. We demand more facilities now.

Let’s march on the City and alongside other housing campaigns let our demand be heard

More Mooring Spaces
Open the Bow Back Rivers
More Facilities

Saturday 31 January at 12 noon
St Mary’s Churchyard, Newington Butts, SE1 6SQ (Elephant and Castle tube/rail)
NBTA banner and boaters will be at the corner of St Mary’s Butts and Gun Street

***This SATURDAY join the BOATERS BLOC***

Nbta London's photo.

Everywhere you go in London redevelopments are happening making the housing needs for people harder.

The waterways are not excluded from this. Around Central London there is pressure to move out boaters so that property prices are not negatively effected. However, we need more mooring rings.

The whole of the navigable waters of the Bow Back Rivers was taken from us for the Olympics. Now it is only open to some trip boats and with plans to turn it into just 24 hours moorings. This should be open again to all with 14 days moorings.

There has been great reduction of facilities across the waterways. In time where there is more boats, we need more facilities. Places like West London are lacking facilities. We demand more facilities now.

Let’s march on the City and alongside other housing campaigns let our demand be heard

More Mooring Spaces
Open the Bow Back Rivers
More Facilities

Saturday 31 January at 12 noon
St Mary’s Churchyard, Newington Butts, SE1 6SQ (Elephant and Castle tube/rail)
NBTA banner and boaters will be at the corner of St Mary’s Butts and Gun Street

CRT Hands Off Our Homes! Public Meeting, 22nd January 2015, London

The Canal & River Trust (CRT) is on a mission to make the lives of live-aboards without home moorings harder. CRT has been meeting with some boaters’ groups to try to get an agreement to an unlawful definition of “place” and an unlawful minimum distance that continuous cruisers should travel to comply with Section 17 (3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995. This, together with recently concreted towpaths without mooring rings that are impossible to moor boats on, and the lack of facilities like water taps, threatens our homes. We must stop CRT making our lives harder. We need more mooring rings, more facilities and no further mooring restrictions.

The National Bargee Travellers Association London is hosting a public meeting about these attacks on boat dwellers and discussion about what we can do about it. We have also invited some speakers from the wider housing movement so we can get ideas about what can be done to defend our homes. Join us at this campaign meeting to plan what action to take.

Radical Housing Network

To many of us in the NBTA, it has become increasingly clear that the issues that we face as boaters are far from unique. The more we see of the problems facing people living on land, be they council tenants, private tenants or owner-occupiers, the more we realise how much we have in common.

Because of the common threats we face, we have become affiliated to the Radical Housing Network. This group brings together a wide range of groups campaigning to protect the right to be housed, as well as people exploring the possibilities of co-operative housing development and other alternative models.

We have seen the same issues time and time again, and these are issues that affect boaters too. The rapid development of luxury waterside apartments across London is accompanied by the creation of permanent moorings that reduce the space for continuous cruisers, who are forced to move further afield. This mirrors the regeneration happening on land, resulting in 45,000 families being moved out of their borough in the past five years.

We believe that our position is stronger if we can call upon the solidarity of all those groups engaged in similar campaigns to defend their rights and their homes. In the coming weeks and months, we will be posting articles here exploring the background to the challenges we all face, whether living on the land or on the water.

Legal Rights Meeting 6th November 2014

For a number of reasons, the legal rights meeting planned for tonight is severely oversubscribed.  We have been overwhelmed by the response and if everyone who has booked turns up, it will simply not be possible for everybody to get in.

However, we are doing everything we can to make sure that we get the information to as many people as possible.  We are planning a second meeting for the new year, in a much bigger venue.  Also, we are going to broadcast the meeting on Ustream for anybody who cannot make it.  This will also be available online after the meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 7pm.   To watch the live broadcast, go to http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nbtalondon