Category Archives: News

Boating on our terms

Sometimes the Canal and River Trust will say that boaters need to follow CRT’s Terms and Conditions, such as following their ‘no mooring’ signs however, do they really have the legal right to enact and enforce their Terms and Conditions?

There are no court judgements to say if CRT can or can’t enforce or enact their T&Cs. CRT doesn’t use breaking T&Cs as a main argument in court; therefore there is no case law to say one way or another. However, there are legal opinions.

CRT’s legal opinion goes like this; under the Transport Act 1962, section 43, the board (CRT) can set T&Cs for use of their facilities. CRT claims that because they can set the T&Cs they can make boat licences subject to conditions over and above those listed in Acts and Byelaws. CRT’s services and facilities include ‘the use of any inland waterway owned or managed by them by any ship or boat’ as well as actual facilities such as taps and rubbish points etc.

However, the opposing opinion is that sure; CRT can set T&Cs for facilities that they can charge for, however, there are enforceable T&C’s, and non-enforceable conditions. The T&Cs include many of the General Canal Byelaws 1965-1976, which are indeed enforceable – but only via prosecution through the Magistrates Court. But not all T&Cs are byelaws such as following CRT signs, unless it is a sign prohibiting mooring to lock structures, or in places which would be an obstruction as per byelaws above.

CRT claims that they can refuse boat licenses if a boat owner breaks its T&Cs are contrary to law. The British Waterways Act 1995 Section 17* says that the board (CRT) can only refuse a licence if a boat doesn’t comply to three conditions: having a boat safety, third party insurance and is used for navigation or has a home mooring. Any T&Cs which are not byelaws are subordinate to Acts of Parliament. Therefore non-byelaw T&Cs come under the British Waterways Act 1995 and on that basis, CRT doesn’t have the right to refuse a license if a boater breaks T&Cs such as CRT signage.

Another way that CRT claims it could enforce T&Cs is to charge a fee for staying longer on a mooring with restricted times. The first thing is that the 1962 Act gave no new power to set charges for anything not previously enabled. Secondly, it should be noted that in the 1990 bill British Waterways (precursor to CRT) asked for powers to post such signs governing where and for how long one could moor, but these were refused. On top of this, if CRT tries to charge, because of the outcome of the Ravenscroft Vs Canal and River Trust case, CRT cannot recover ‘outstanding cost’ from boat owners using Section 8 of British Waterways Act 1983 (this is one of the eviction notices that CRT issues to boaters).

CRT doesn’t hold the entire deck of cards. Many boat owners moor at places that don’t block the navigation but have ‘No Mooring’ signs, and CRT have done nothing other than to sometimes send an email claiming they shouldn’t moor there.’

Moor away!

 

*British Waterways Act 1995, Section 17. 

Conditions as to certificates and licences

Subsection (3) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment but subject to subsection (7) below, the Board may refuse a relevant consent in respect of any vessel unless—

(a)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel complies with the standards applicable to that vessel;

(b)an insurance policy is in force in respect of the vessel and a copy of the policy, or evidence that it exists and is in force, has been produced to the Board; and

(c)either—

(i)the Board are satisfied that a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably be kept and may lawfully be left will be available for the vessel, whether on an inland waterway or elsewhere; or

(ii)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

 

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Winter Warmer 2018

All boaters are welcome to come and cook with us, as well as bring their own dishes. This will be a great event for itinerant boaters to eat together, socialise and openly talk about defending our homes in a warm and friendly environment. We will start cooking at 5pm.

This year there will be a small presentation from Focus E15, a campaign against social cleansing. This will lead onto a discussion about whether there is anything we can learn from campaigns against social cleansing on land in our own fight against the gentrification of the waterways.

All of this and more on Thursday 6 December at 7pm at London Action Resource Centre 62 Fieldgate St, London E1 1ES

The venue is off a road on Whitechapel Road, between Aldgate East tube and Whitechapel tube

Please get a ticket here; https://www.eventbrite.com/e/winter-warmer-2018-tickets-51100929255 

 

cat n meal 2

What Is The Future Of CRT?

From the controversy of its new logo, selling its Marinas, and its big shake up in management, there are a lot of concerns as to where CRT is heading and what lies in store for the boating community as a whole. Many are confused as to where CRT’s responsibilities lie and what a Charitable Trust even looks like, in an ever more profit driven world.

By the end of the 2nd World War, the waterways came under the control of the Ministry of Transport. This was reformed by the British Transport Commission and became the British Waterways Board after the 1962 Transport Act was passed. This turned a previously public owned body into a “quasi”, which is defined in the Oxford dictionary as ‘seemingly; apparently but not really’! This new board was a public Corporation and mainly concerned with commerce and inland waterway assets. It was an ‘arm’s length’ institution and owned by the British Government, sponsored in 1963 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in England and Wales, and by the Scottish Government in Scotland.

By late 1969, early 1970, commerce on the canal system had all but ended. Stretches were filled in and it looked like we might lose the canals for ever. The much hated 1971 BWB Act and consequent 1983 BWB Act were brought in to evict traders and live-aboards from the water; Section 8 and Section 13 of the enforcement process.

The main body fighting to save the canals back then was the IWA and through lobbying and direct actions, a small but determined group of bargees and boaters managed to save this historic asset for the future. Volunteers and enthusiasts reinstated cuts and dug links that had been left as rubbish dumps, to make it a new viable leisure industry.

In 2010/2011 the BWB had a revenue of £176,500,000 with total assets of £676,900,000 andon 2nd July 2012, under the Cameron government, all British Waterways’ assets and responsibilities in England and Wales were transferred to the newly founded CRT.

All assets owned by CRT are considered ‘protected assets’ , but the actual legalities of charities and trusts in fact makes it easier to sell.

All land transferred to CRT in 2012 was ‘to be held permanently for the benefit of the public’.

Regardless of this, CRT have been busy bringing in developers to ‘adopt’ CRT land, with big corporations buying up water side sites for private developments in the future. This has happened at Limehouse with a 380m stretch of the Lea on the Bow Free Wharf going to ‘Vastint’, the developers’ branch of furniture giants IKEA. The Birmingham network and the ‘Icknield Port Loop’ saw CRT and Birmingham Council working in collaboration to secure planning consent on a massive swathe of public land.

It is very difficult to see how selling these public assets and paying nearly three times the price for labour makes good business sense. To the more cynical amongst us it looks like it has been set up to fail; to be asset stripped with a view to privatisation.

Even those who still believe in CRT must see this as terrible mismanagement and a huge waste of funds.

So this begs the question; how does an institution, or our country for that matter, survive by selling assets to break even? The very simple economic answer is: it can’t.

NBTA London Constitution

1. Definitions

1.1 “NBTA” and “the national” means the National Bargee Travellers Association.

1.1 “NBTA London”, “NBTAL” and “the branch” mean the London branch of the National Bargee Travellers Association.

1.2 The “Committee” means the committee of NBTA London.

1.3 “Member” means a member of the NBTA.

2. Decision making

2.1 Decisions of NBTA London shall be made by consensus wherever posible. Where consensus cannot be reached, decisions shall be made by 2/3s majority vote. The chair shall have the casting vote.

2.2 In any vote each Ordinary Member shall have one vote. Associate Members are not entitled to vote.

2.3 Every Ordinary Member shall be entitled to take part in the decisions of every meeting.

3. Officers

3.1 NBTA London shall appoint 4 Officers to the Committee.

3.2 Only Members are eligible for appointment as Officers.

3.3 Appointment of Officers shall be agreed by consensus of the General Meeting. Where consensus cannot be reached, decisions shall be made by 2/3s majority vote.

3.4 Officers shall be reviewed by the General Meeting at least every 18 months.

3.5 Officers can be recalled at any General Meeting by a consensus decision, or where consensus cannot be reached, by a 2/3s majority vote. An Officer who is recalled is not entitled to be included in the decision to recall but is entitled to present their case for continuing to be an Officer.

3.6 The functions of the Officers shall be Chair, Deputy Chair, Secretary and Treasurer.

3.7 Until such time as a General Meeting can be called, acting Officers shall be appointed by consensus of a Committee Meeting.

4. Working Groups

4.1 NBTA London shall appoint Working Groups. A Working Group must comprise at least 3 Members.

4.2 A Working Group may be formed by:
a) resolution of the Committee made during a Committee Meeting; or
b) petition of at least 3 Members.

4.3 If a Working Group is appointed by the Committee then the resolution shall define the remit of the Working Group.

4.4 If a Working Group is formed by its Members then the petition shall state the remit of the Working Group.

4.5 Any Member is entitled to join any Working Group.

4.6 The purpose of a Working Group is to:
a) Carry out the decisions of the Committee Meetings within the remit of the Working Group;
b) Carry out the objectives of NBTA London within the remit of the Working Group; and
c) Advise the Committee Meetings in matters within the remit of the Working Group.

4.7 Decisions can be made by Working Groups if:
a) The decisions are within the remit of the Working Group;
b) The decisions are not contrary to decisions made at Committee Meetings;
c) The decisions are brought up at Committee Meetings for discussion and/or further decision; and
d) The decisions do not pertain to:
i) communications outside the NBTA; or
ii) the disbursement of funds.

4.8 Decisions of Working Groups shall be made according to the principles in Article 2.

4.9 Delegates
a) Each Working Group shall appoint a Delegate to the Committee to pursue their mandate.
b) Delegates shall be appointed by consensus or if consensus cannot be reached, by a simple majority vote.
c) A Delegate’s mandate shall last for one Committee Meeting. The same Member may act as Delegate for the same Working Group at more than one Committee Meeting provided their mandate is renewed by the Working Group.

5. Committee

5.1 The Committee shall comprise:
a) The 4 Officers: Chair, Deputy Chair, Secretary and Treasurer
b) 1 Delegate mandated by each Working Group
c) 1 Delegate from the national Committee

6. Meetings

6.1 Working Group Meetings
a) Working Groups shall convene when their Members deem it necessary.
b) Working Groups may discuss, organise and make decisions via Mailing List and are encouraged to do so.

6.2 Committee Meetings
a) NBTA London shall aim to convene Committee Meetings monthly. There shall be a Committee Meeting at least once every 3 months.
b) The purpose of Committee Meetings is to:
i) ensure the decisions of the General Meetings are being carried out;
ii) ensure the branch is functioning; and
iii) co-ordinate the Working Groups.
c) Decisions can be made in Committee Meetings if the decisions are not contrary to a decicion made at a General Meeting.
d) A decision of the Committee is not valid unless there is a quorum of 3 members of the committee.

6.3 General Meetings
a) NBTA London shall aim to convene General Meetings annually. There shall be a General Meeting at least once every 18 months.
b) NBTA London shall give at least 1 weeks notice to NBTA London members of a General Meeting.
c) A decision of the General meeting is not a valid decision unless there is a quorum of 3 Ordinary Members.
d) A General Meeting shall be inquorate unless it is attended by the Chair, the Treasurer and the Secretary.
e) Motions to be made at a General Meeting shall be in accordance with Article 6 of the NBTA Constitution.

6.4 Extraordinary General Meetings
a) NBTA London may convene an EGM when one is deemed necessary. An EGM may be requisitioned by:
i) the Committee + 1; or
ii) petition of a minimum of 10 members.
b) An EGM may be called as a result of:
i) resolution of the Committee made to that effect during a Committee Meeting; or
ii) the receipt by the Committee of a properly formulated petition.
c) If the EGM is called by the Committee then the resolution shall define the scope and subject of the EGM.
d) If the EGM is called by petition the petition shall state the purpose of the EGM.
e) An EGM shall be held within 1 month of the calling of the EGM.
f) An EGM shall be convened in accordance of the principles of 6.3, but confined to the subject matter of the scope of the EGM.

7. Mailing Lists

7.1 The organisation of the branch shall be facilitated by Mailing Lists.

7.2 The current “News” Mailing List shall be for the purpose of communication with interested non-Members.

7.3 The current “Organisational” Mailing List shall be for the purpose of communication with Members.

7.4 A new “Committee” Mailing List shall be set up for the purpose of discussion and organisation among the Committee.

7.5 A new Mailing List shall be set up for each Working Group, for the purpose of discussion, organisation and decision making among the Working Group.

7.6 Any Member shall be entitled to join any Mailing List.

– The main roles of NBTA London right now are as follows;

Chair– send out suggested agenda to email list 1 week before the nbta London meeting

-check minutes of nbta London meeting and send them out to email list

-book meeting room

-make sure NBTA London tasks get done

Secretary – Check emails which NBTA London gets and deal appropriately

Membership officer– add in new members to gmail account, texting phone and email lists appropriately

-take people off list appropriately

– try to find where we can involve members in more stuff

Treasurer – collect and keep account of NBTA London money

-send a report of the money we have at least one day before nbta London meeting

-to do payments for NBTA London

Communication officer– Advertisement of our events on Facebook a week before and a day before the event

-Advertisement of our events on our email a week before the meeting

-Update website of next meeting

Send texts for events one day before the event, sometimes also a week before the meeting as well.

Fund raiser -to organise collecting money at our events and do crowd funding etc

 

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 September at Colebrooke Row Garden near to Noel Rd in Angel (London).

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

protest

 

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.