Category Archives: News

The Waterways Gentrification Tour

Join us on the Sunday 2 September to bring attention to CRT’s efforts to gentrify the waterways. At the Angel Canal Festival, we will handing out leaflets and hosting a tour of some of CRT detrimental plans in their London Mooring Strategy. There we also be an open air discussion on how to stop CRT gentrification plans.

Please join us at 1pm on Sunday 2 August at Colebrooke Row Garden near to Noel Rd in Angel (London).

Facebook event; https://www.facebook.com/events/292405721330857/

protest

 

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The London Mooring Strategy is a recipe for gentrification of the waterways

Canal & River Trust (CRT) last week published its London Mooring Strategy with claims it will make it easier to moor in London.

The National Bargee Travellers Association London (NBTA London) which is the London branch of the organisation for boat dwellers without a home mooring, disputes CRT’s claims that it will make it easier to moor in London. The London Mooring Strategy will make it harder to moor in London and Greater London, making many people’s lives impractical or impossible. The CRT blueprint has stretches of no-mooring areas and turns publicly used towpath into business moorings and introduce new watersports zones. The London Mooring Strategy is a strategy to help clear London’s waterways of boat dwellers and turn it into a London waterway leisure and business park.  It is the perfect recipe for gentrification of the waterways.

 

The London Mooring Strategy includes;

– 22 sites where time limits are further reduced from 14 days to 7 days, 48 hours or 24 hours

– Increased monitoring and enforcement on the sites with reduced time limits

– Two watersports zones next to two rowing clubs. These zones will turn the towpath into ‘no mooring’ areas or ban double mooring

– Four more pre-bookable chargeable visitor mooring sites on the towpath and other publicly used moorings

– More pre-chargeable trade moorings

– 30 more business moorings

– More stretches where no mooring at all is allowed

– Continued no mooring on the Bow Back Rivers. The Bow Back Rivers are the river systems that were closed off to normal navigation for the Olympics and now only open for cruising through however no mooring is allowed anywhere and this is re-stated in the London Mooring Strategy.

 

NBTA London chairperson, Ian McDowell commented:

‘The London Mooring Strategy demonstrates CRT’s plan to cleanse the waterways of poorer people, in favour of the leisure industry and business.’

The London Mooring Strategy was published not long after CRT adopted a new corporate logo.

Ian McDowell also said: ‘We don’t like the direction that CRT is going. We want the waterways to be for everyone, not for business to make money out of a public asset.

The only positive is the promise of more facilities. NBTA welcomes more facilities but we will not stand for the ever-increasing gentrification of the waterways. We will fight to keep the waterways for everyone.’

 

NBTA London vows to fight the increasing gentrification of the waterways and is planning further actions to stop CRT in its tracks.

 

Moor on Broxbourne

And so we did by combining the Public Right of Navigation enshrined in Common Law, granting itinerant boaters on the River Lea the legal right to navigate and moor without payment to any piece of land. Along side the Parks own bylaws which require them to “refrain from interfering in established mooring practice” the signage placed up by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority became redundant.

So what got this all started? Well, it seems that the LVRP Authority has been pestered all to frequently by a very vocal, and rather unpleasant resident; one who has notoriously invaded the privacy of boaters – harassing them, and even filming them as they go about their legal, and legitimate, business!

So watch out! NBTA, of course, advise you avoid any direct confrontation. So that means, in the mind of this particular resident, to forget about running your engine, for starters. Get a load more blankets in (because where there’s fire, there’s smoke). And were you thinking to huddle together on the towpath for warmth? Think again – towpath socialising clearly results in deafening chatter… consequently leading to a fury of angry messages all over Facebook. On a serious note, please do be aware of this apparent grudge if boating in or around the area; conducting ourselves in a safe, respectful, manner. Finally, a big thank you to the pub, all the other locals and residents who do appreciate the boater community, and are also actively opposing the new signage.

Winter Warmer 2017

The Winter Warmer brought together all manner of boaters from the raggedy to the sharp suited. All were greeted with a warm cup of mulled cider and a roasting fire. As bellies filled up on chilli bombs everyone settled in to hear Cassi Perry speak of the diverse group of boaters who upheld their rights to live, moor and navigate the Oxford canals.

Cassi highlighted that there were different ways to campaign, including creating art, writing to the press and speaking at public meetings, and that it worked well to fight using different approaches and for boaters to make the most of the variety of skills they had. As a result, the community were able to shape the way that the waterways are used today.

IMAG0148[1]

Here the NBTA Londoners are setting up for the Winter Warmer at the London Action Resource Center. The burners on and mulled wine at the ready.

“I really enjoyed being part of the night. There was a welcoming, communal atmosphere which made this event all the more worthwhile.” said Rosh of the boat Thistle.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the running of the event and for the £195 raised which helped to fund the evening and the future of the NBTA London.

We will endeavor to continue in our efforts to champion the needs of boat dwellers without home moorings.

Seasons Greetings to all,
From NBTA London.

Join NBTA London;
https://nbtalondon.wordpress.com/about/welcome-to-the-nbta/

To make a donation:
PayPal:
https://www.paypal.com/donate/?token=p3VJh1vqKbecnoQv_n_UBB15JRT10cIBOOptNABeGv9hOS5U_n91FJLlAXECJGe9kn8gkm&country.x=GB&locale.x=GB

Or our bank account;
Account number : 23671379,
Sort code:      23-05-80

Battle of Broxbourne

The NBTA condemns the manner in which the LVRPA have approached the matter of mooring in Borxbourne. There has been no clear attempt to consult with the relevant parties including boating groups, local businesses or the Canal and River Trust.

Regardless of interpretation of the law, we expect that those bodies entrusted do so to the highest standards of care and active engagement.

To date the signage has been removed and people have and will continue to moor here.

But we are not out of the woods yet, with the implimentation of the London Mooring Stratergy Broxbourne mooring will become a thing of the past to many, it sees the implimnetation of ‘water sports zones’ and short term mooring, this compounded with the recent addition of Winter Moorings leaves Broxbourne inaccessible for boaters without a home mooring. These are very real threats being made on other stretches of the River Lea and Londonwide which seek to limit and reduce our access to London and the surrounding area.

The following statement reflects the opinions of the NBTA London:

Regarding the signage posted by Lee Valley Regional Park (LVRP) in November 2017 between Broxbourne to the North West of Broxbourne Cruising Club on the adjacent side along the towpath until south of Lee Valley Boat Centre, 1km spot.

Land Registry document number HD526013.

It is NBTA’s opinion that:

A Public Right of Navigation exists on the River Lea as it does on all navigable rivers whether natural or canalised. It is a legal right for boaters to navigate and moor in this area. This is a Common Law right that has existed since Time Immemorial and can only be only changed by primary legislation.

This includes the right to anchor, to remain for a “convenient time”, to moor and to fix temporary moorings in the waterway or on the foreshore and to the ground, without payment to the owner of the soil.

The signage that has been placed in this area does not affect this right and the restriction of mooring on this site is not lawful.

 

Section 21 (Control of moorings, etc.) of the Lea Valley Regional Park Act 1966: The Board shall have due regard and refrain from interfering in established mooring practices and shall not prevent the mooring of any vessel which could lawfully have been moored.


As long as you remain within in the law by respecting other people’s right of free passage and comply with relevant legislation* this should not affect your licence with CRT.  


*Under the British Waterways Act 1995, CRT is obliged to give a license if you can provide evidence of the following three things; third party insurance, boat safety certificate and that you are using the boat bona-fide for navigation or that you have a mooring, as stated in Section 17 (3) (c) ii of the British Waterways Act 1995.  

 

Licence review

Those of you on Canal & River Trust (CRT) waterways may have received an email or a letter from CRT with the consultation questionnaire for CRT’s review of boat licensing. Click here for our suggested answers to the questionnaire Example response CRT licence review

This consultation contains two proposals to increase the cost of a boat licence without a home mooring. There is no legal justification for this.Increasing the licence fee for Bargee Travellers will drive some of our community off the water and into homelessness. We believe that this is another attempt by CRT to drive Bargee Travellers off its waterways.

The NBTA is opposed to all increases in boat licence fees, except for increases in line with inflation. We don’t believe that CRT should use licensing to make harder for some boat dwellers to live on the water, and we don’t believe that the way boat dwellers are treated by CRT, especially those without home moorings, justifies a fee increase. Please complete the consultation questionnaire opposing any increase in the licence fee for boats without a home mooring and for widebeams. The most important questions are 24, 25 and 26 (increases in fees without a home mooring) and 1 (increased fees for widebeams). Also important are question 14 (proposals to get rid of the prompt payment discount that many rely on to make the licence affordable) and question 27 (phasing in any increases over a set period).

Attached is a short example consultation response with the tick boxes filled in. It does not include answers to the questions that ask for suggestions, opinions and comments. The NBTA will be circulating a full example consultation response and analysis of the proposals as soon as possible. The consultation ends at midnight on Monday December 18th 2017, so if you wish to wait for the NBTA’s full suggested consultation response, you will still have enough time to get your questionnaire in before the deadline.

If you need a paper copy of the survey, you can get one by phoning CRT’s main number 0303 040 4040 then Option 3. Also phone CRT if you have not received a link to the survey and you want a link to complete it online. However you may be able to complete the survey online using this link without needing to wait for CRT to send you a link:

http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CRT-Licensing-Consultation-2017

There is a blank copy of the questionnaire to download here
http://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Licensing_Consultation_2017.pdf
if you need to read it through and think about the questions before you respond.

Are the Canal and River Trust spending our money wisely?

If you read through the 2016/2017 CRT financial review, it paints a glowing picture; a charitable trust and a thriving business, with everything ‘moving forward’ and ‘profitable’. In fact, £180.5 million in the 2014/2015 report to £202.9 million in 2016/2017 report, a NET rise of £22.4 million. Nice work CRT, did everyone get their performance bonus?

Donations are up. Grants are up. Income through licensing is up. It stands to reason that maintenance and facilities should be up as well then. Sadly, this is not the case. Instead, it would seem that people who live on the canal and river system continue to get less for their money. So where is the money going?

There are several areas that are not featured in the glossy financial report, where CRT lost money and failed to make profit. The first is the amount of money that CRT spend on court cases and lawyers. Following a Freedom of Information request, it was discovered that the sums paid to Shoosmiths for legal cases during 2014/15 was £434,341.37, but these legal fees are not included in their financial report. Fighting unbeatable cases due to unlawful enforcement practices, is a waste of money and a free lunch for big law firms.

CRT efforts to recruit ‘CRT friends’ and regular donations have also failed. For every £7.20 of CRT investment, there was a return of £5.00, which is an actual loss of just over 30%. In actual monetary terms, £1.1m was wasted on recruiting friends in 2015/2016.

Another area is the Investment portfolio, some of which has been sold off to invest in non-property. This £120 million fund that is run by the Board of Trustees investment committee, under-performed against predicted figures by nearly 10%. The Board’s chair is Manish Chande, whose property business went bust in 2009, owing £60 million to RBS. This money was never recovered. Other sources suggest that some of CRT non-property has turned up in Mr Chande’s latest property company, Clearbell, or perhaps it was just resting in his account?
When asked for the figures on these investments, DEFRA, the government body who work alongside CRT stated ‘There is strong public interest in withholding the information’…from the public?
Sounds fishy to me.

 
Then there is the pay structure at the top. For the top 72 executives, their pay has gone up from £1.4m to £1.6 2015/2016. The organisation has 15 executives on or between £100,000 and £210,000 with the highest earner raking in a staggering £207,887.
Strangely, this was not Richard Parry the chief executive, but the ‘property director’ Stuart Mills, who nailed a performance related bonus of £24,491. Nice work if you can get it. Richard Parry came in second with a paltry £194,405. The executive pension
scheme rose from £28,000 in 2015 to £93,000 2016 which goes to ‘key management personnel’; so nice and vague there too.

 
It is difficult to understand then why the boating community is getting less for its money, while profits and executive wages go up. As a ‘charitable trust’ are CRT either charitable or trustworthy? As an executive employee, it seems that CRT are very good value for money. If you are a member of the community that lives on the water, it would seem to be the opposite.

NBTA London meeting with CRT about more mooring rings

Date: Monday 26 June, 2017

Time: 13:30 – 14:30

Present: NBTA-L Graham Ryder (GR), Ben Bowles (BB), Marcus Trower (MT), Helen Brice (HB); CRT – Matthew Symonds (MS)

 

HB asked for MS’s response to Minutes of previous Meeting (sent by MT on 29 May)

– how far has CRT got with the service checks? MS has started but these have not been completed. Some not required (see below) MS to follow up with Sam Thomas (ST). Service checks take on average 6 weeks to do, however it can depend on the service providers.

 

MS reported that ST confirms that the incline at Picketts Lock is good for wheelie bins; Rye House is good in principle, but CRT are still awaiting permission (required from the landowner) for access. MS clarified that payment for this would need to come out of the next Business Plan, business cases will be submitted in September 2017 for April 2018.

 

MS: CRT is looking into providing mobile waste in the form of a CRT boat  before winter moorings start in 2017. (MS reminded us that all refuse collected goes to sorting sites where at least 80% is recycled.) The bin boat (mobile narrow hopper) may be operated by volunteers (tbc). MS had no further details on this, but CRT are talking to Lee Wilshire. HB suggested that MS may put feelers out to NBTA-L for volunteers to assist with this service.

 

MS reported ST’s correction to the NBTA-L’s Newsletter about the towpath bins that are being taken away. ST affirmed that this is a London only project, that there will be 40 bins (as opposed to a National scheme with 40% removal of bins, as reported in the NBTA-L Newsletter), which is 30% of bins.  HB explained that she had asked in emails and in phone call messages to ST and Sorwar Ahmed (SA) for comments/approval of the previous Minutes, but none were forthcoming from anyone from CRT.  MT reaffirmed that NBTA-L members present at the previous meeting had all believed that the figure was 40%. NBTA-L agreed at MS’s suggestion that before NBTA publish anything prior to Minutes being approved, NBTA will check specific figures with CRT.

 

MS reiterated that the saving for CRT is the “additional costs” of clearing any towpath fly tipping around bins.  MS said that the money we saved from the removal of bins will be spent on Biffa bins collection and on additional Biffa bins installation and it is hoped this will reduce fly tipping too.

 

BB asked about dredging costs. MS explained that cost is from the national budget and that Peter Birch and his team is responsible for dredging and costs. There is a London waterways budget for dredging, CRT will be looking at where to dredge on the London waterways.

 

BB presented the summary of the NBTA-L boaters’ survey on where people wanted mooring rings.  Where CRT’s sites for mooring rings that MC and SA had visited on the towpath walk matched those identified by NBTA-L, MS pointed these out. In particular MS confirmed that CRT were contemplating short stay moorings along Regents Park (NBTA-L Site 10); MS stated that CRT would probably not support mooring opposite Pirates Castle (NBTA-L Site 9) as the water space here is busy and well used.

 

BB and GR stated that NBTA-L Sites 1 and 2 (Salmon Lane) were concrete, so good for rings.  GR stated that he elicited from CRT the material and method used for creating mooring rings, and that he would be able to create moorings for less than the quoted £100 each, having discussed the process with the appropriate CRT works/maintenance team.

 

MS confirmed that CRT week of 26 June 2017 are already installing mooring rings on NBTA-L apart of Site 11 – : North of Old Oak Lane (Willesden Junction).  Site 11 is between Action Lane (Harlesden) and Old Oak Lane (Willesden Junction).

 

Other sites we push for because the high demand for them from the survey;

 

Site 4 Kingsland basin (Extend moorings from Proud Archivist bar to Whitmore Road)

Site 7 Opposite Battles Bridge Basin to Caledonia Road (Extend from opposite Battle bridge Basin to Caledonian Road)

Site 9 Kentish Town Lock (Camden Street to Kentish Town Road)

 

MT proposed that where there are short towpath railings that CRT insert mooring rings (instead of “No Mooring” signage) to prevent boaters from tying their ropes to the railings. NBTA- L agreed at MS’s request to report back the specific sites for these railings/rings. [HB mentioned the short railings at Caledonian Road just through from Islington Tunnel in N1, and at the Rosemary Branch Pub mooring (junction Baring St/Southgate Rd N1 junction)].

 

MS agreed to ask ST about GR working with ST’s maintenance and works team on the installation of new mooring rings.

Meeting with CRT to get more facilities

Here are the minutes from meeting we had with CRT to get more facilities;

NBTA-L and CRT Facilities Meeting

Friday 28 April 2017

Present: NBTA-L – Marcus Trower (MT), Helen Delmar (HD), Helen Brice (HB); CRT – Matthew Symonds (MS), Sorwar Ahmed (SA), Sam Thomas (ST), Gareth, Alexander Gudmestad (AG)

***

MT presented NBTAL thoughts on facilities explaining that it was mainly east London and River Lee that warranted most attention according to our NBTAL boaters survey.

1)Ponders End Lock(First highest after by Waltham Cross)

Where there is a waterpoint connected, it makes sense to install bins, pumpout, Elsan, possible loo lock. – Looks feasible speaking with contracts about access

ST said he would do a Service Search (Leeds) but this will take at least 28 days; and talk to existing staff who’ve worked in the area for 25 yrs. – Not required

NBTAL suggested bottom of ramp; Biffa to research, as it depends on the gradiant of ramp.

2)

River Stort/Lee

NBTAL suggested that at Rye House, bins were put on towpath side. Also pumpout,  elsan and tap, adding that it’s a good place as it’s a junction. – Beginning dialogue with the Speedway about access- rubbish disposal only a real possibility at  present

Fieldes Weir

(EXISTING Elsan, EXISTING tap, SIGNAGE needed for new bins at Rye House)

3)

NBTAL suggested Elsan at Coppermill. ST thought that the buildings have septic tanks – ST to do a service search. – Not completed yet

ST pointed out that Hillingdon Marina pumpout is open to public.

4) Bulls Bridge

NBTAL suggested Pumpout, Elsan& Bin

it’s a good place as it’s a junction and next to tap and recycling box

 

5) Springwell

NBTAL suggested Water point

 

6) Denham

NBTAL suggested Rubbish Bins

 

CRT didn’t disagree when any of NBTAL’s proposals,they seem to think they were good ideas. CRT will be doing service searches on the areas NBTAL to see the practically of putting facilities in there.

CRT said that business case will need to be made for new facilities. MS confirmed that he will be submitting business case to support the implementation of the LMS, as it is on of the Trust’s strategic projects he anticipates that there will be funding to support implementation.

We asked if it was possible for trained and insured boater trade persons get do some of the work as we believe they will do a cheaper/ better job than others. Yes CRT said the Trust is very happy to explore working with boaters to undertake smaller jobs. SA suggested boater tradesmen could be in the future linked to an adoption for a “small” job. ‘Small’ jobs being less than 20k

OTHER:

SA reported that King’s Cross development of St Pancras Cruising Club provides a pumpout and is having their pumpout upgraded.

ST asked whether at Springwell a Biffa bin could be brought through the car park

CRT produced maps that were colour coded red, amber and green showing the frequency of facilites

NBTA-L requested that we make red parts amber and amber fewer as a priority.

MS asked, what about improving existing over-capacitated facilities . NBTAL said we’ll come back on this, as well as mooring rings.

Sawbridgeworth could be looked into for more facilities.

AG mentioned that CRT’s Rick Jones is in talks with council (Enfield office).

AG suggested bookable places for fit out waste.

ST announced that CRT are removing 30% (40 bins) of bins across the network. If there are 3 bins in 1/2km, then 1 bin will be removed. ST said he will send research on this to NBTAL. ST said that the excess bins will go in to storage and the money CRT save will go in to other kinds of waste disposal.

ST stated that CRT can put a pump in to increase water pressure and that they would bear this in mind for new installations.

NBTA asked about Victoria Park Lock security – ST to send detail of the building so that NBTAL can look at the what can be done to involve security.

ST stated that an Elsan will be installed at Norwood Top Lock this financial year.

AG talked about The Lee Rowing Club with regards a request by the Club of easing navigation, e.g. Widebeam and a rowing boat to pass at same time. AG spoke of “pinch points”. MT asked for facts. Also put in moorings where there might have to be single moorings. SA will look at this in the overall strategy.

CRT plans to get rid of 30% 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 30% 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 even take it home…”.

However, the plan to remove 30% 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

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

 

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 30% 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