Category Archives: News

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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Protest continues at the east London’s gasworks

In Tower Hamlets in East London, CRT wants to take away the public
moorings at the Gasworks (Corbridge Crescent) near Broadway Market as part
of its ongoing gentrification.

The Gasworks moorings have been used as public moorings by all boaters for
many years. However, CRT is set to turn them into private moorings for so
called ‘affordable’ moorings. Which for many boat dwellers, isn’t
affordable.

The Gasworks moorings are on a historic wharf and if privatised, many
boaters will never have the opportunity to use them.

For the last 5 weeks protesters have had their boats on the Gasworks
moorings, keeping them public on a rota of no more than 14 days each.

One protester boat dweller Graham Ryder, said:

“Our heritage is being taken away and sold off by stealth everywhere. It
makes me angry and I feel like we have to do something before our
community is broken up and sold off. The community that is already here is
well loved by the public and an integral part of the landscape. I won’t
stand by and watch whilst they sell off what we all already own.”

Gasworks

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Boater wins Article 8 case

Bargee Traveller, Matthew Jones yesterday won his appeal against Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) attempt to strike out the Article 8 elements of his defence against eviction from CRT’s waterways under Section 8 of the British Waterways Act 1983. The case will now be remitted back to Bristol County Court where Mr Jones will be able to put his Article 8 arguments in full. Mr Jones’s solicitor Community Law Partnership writes:

The claim by Canal & River Trust (CRT) in this action is for a declaration and injunction that it is entitled to remove the Appellant’s boat, “The Mrs T”, from its waterways (covering over 2,000 miles) under s.8 of the British Waterways Act 1983 and s.13 of the British Waterways Act 1971.

The Appellant lodged a defence which raised a number of points in resistance to the claim, including a defence based upon Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights(right to respect for private and family life and home).

If a person wishes to get a licence on a CRT waterway s/he (subject to having insurance and a boat safety certificate) will either require a ‘home mooring’ or will need to use his/her vessel ‘bona fide for navigation’ : see British Waterways Act 1995 section 17(3). CRT have produced guidance which attempts to interpret the above phrase – this guidance is commonly known as the ‘continuous cruising guidance’. The Appellant also seeks to challenge the lawfulness of this guidance in his defence.

In 2014 CRT asked for an order dismissing summarily the Appellant’s Article 8 part of his defence. The basis of the application was that the present case should be judged according to the same broad criteria applicable to public housing authorities who apply for possession of residential premises and are met by Article 8 defences, as considered in three cases: Manchester City Council v Pinnock [2010] UKSC 45 (“Pinnock”); Hounslow LBC v Powell [2011] UKSC 8 (“Powell”) and Thurrock BC v West [2012] EWCA Civ 1435. In those cases, due to the housing management functions of local housing authorities, it was held that, to be successful, any Article 8 defence would need to be ‘exceptional’. The county court judge struck out the Article 8 part of the Appellant’s defence and a high court judge dismissed his appeal. He appealed to the Court of Appeal.

It was argued on behalf of the Appellant that this reasoning was confined to housing cases. The Court of Appeal, in allowing the appeal, agreed with the Appellant.

McCombe LJ (giving the leading judgment) stated:

“It does not seem to me that the Pinnock line of cases demonstrate a true exception to the requirement of a structured approach to the proportionality assessment. Rather, I think, the position is that in public authority housing cases the Article 8 issues are more amenable to a pre-trial summary assessment and determination in the authority’s favour than in other cases in which such issues of proportionality arise. In the Pinnock-type of case, the court is capable of deciding on such a summary application whether or not the Article 8 considerations afford seriously arguable grounds for resisting the authority’s claims in whole or in part…..”

“It is possible that in some waterways cases the court will be able similarly to take a robust approach to claims to assert the public interest considerations in the exercise of the Respondent’s powers over rights arising under Article 8”. …….

“In the circumstances facing the learned County Court judge in this case, however, I do not consider that the overall context of the proceedings allowed the judge summarily to dismiss the Article 8 defences as he did. ……However, I will shortly summarise why I have reached this conclusion here”.

“First, while I agree that the Respondent’s property rights in the canal and the public interest in the management functions exercised by the Respondent can usually be taken as read, I am not satisfied that the judge could properly dispose of the Article 8 considerations before deciding whether the licence conditions had truly been broken and that property rights and management rights under s.8 of the 1983 Act, therefore, could be invoked unquestioningly, subject only to Convention rights. Second, it was not sought to argue that the Appellant’s defence under the Equality Act 2010 could be summarily determined; it survives on the pleadings. Third, the Respondent seeks extensive relief, including injunctions restraining any mooring of any duration on the K & A [Kennet & Avon] canal, restraining navigation upon any of the extensive waterways controlled by it and an order for immediate removal of the Appellant’s home, viz. the boat, from the K & A canal. With regard to this third consideration, I do not quite see how the judge could properly say, as he did in paragraph 21 of his judgment, that Article 8 was not “cast from [the court’s] mind” on questions of relief when the relevant paragraphs of the Defence had already been struck out”.

“I do not accept Mr Stoner’s submission… that the extent of the relief to be granted at the end of a trial could be re-visited in the context of Article 8. That was no doubt an intentionally helpful concession, but a difficult one to maintain in the face of the extensive relief sought by his client after all Article 8 considerations had been struck out of the Defence”.

“Ground 3 is directed to the County Court judge’s view that it would “impose a quite significant burden” on the respondent by requiring it to deal in every enforcement case with any possible Article 8 points raised on behalf of a defendant. The judge doubted whether it was reasonable to impose that burden on the Respondent”.

“….In my view… the burden of dealing with an Article 8 defence is one that will from time to time, however, have to be shouldered by the court in assessing a defendant’s personal circumstances and in the balancing exercise in weighing those circumstances against the “given” represented by the Respondent’s aims in the proceedings. I have made suggestions as to areas in which summary disposal of such defences may be possible. However, I do not consider that the judge was correct in identifying the “burden” of dealing with Article 8 defences as a reason for striking them out summarily ( paras 52-59)”.

This is an extremely important judgment for boatdwellers. If they raise an arguable Article 8 defence (e.g. due to health problems, need to be near work, needs of children etc) then that should be dealt with at the trial of the matter and not summarily dismissed. The judgment will also have significance to others e.g. potentially Gypsies and Travellers on unauthorised encampments or unauthorised developments.

The barrister for Mr Jones was James Stark of Garden Court North chambers and the solicitor was Chris Johnson of Community Law Partnership.

You can view the court hearing here https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/court-on-camera/court-battle-over-waterways-licence/5059845.article

NBTA Joins women’s demo

As part of the Women’s Marches across the world, London Boat Women and the NBTA joined the London Women’s March.

Sexism only serves to divide us. When community is under threat, we must be opposed anything which divides us.

Sexism most certainly doesn’t float our boats!

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Boats are Homes: March 10 Downing Street

This is a demonstration to demand that Canal & River Trust (CRT) stops evicting or threatening to evict boat dwellers without permanent moorings based on their distance or pattern of travel. The right to use and live on a boat without a permanent mooring on CRT waterways is enshrined in the British Waterways Act 1995. CRT’s ‘rules’ are not supported by the law, which does not state a minimum distance that must be travelled to prevent CRT seizing your home.

In 2016 we handed a petition to Number 10 Downing Street, signed by almost 30,000 people, opposing CRT’s punitive and unlawful ‘rules’. The Government has not done anything to stop CRT; the Prime Minister passed the petition to DEFRA which in turn referred us back to CRT, which refuses to change its policy. Let’s keep up the pressure! Join us on the march to Number 10 with an even bigger petition and then to DEFRA to tell them we will not be fobbed off! The Government must take responsibility for keeping CRT in check.

We also demand that CRT stops the imposition of mooring time limits of less than 14 days; abandons its plan for chargeable bookable moorings and stops selling off our waterways. We want proper maintenance of locks, bridges and waterway banks; more mooring rings; more water taps and more sanitary facilities. Join us in defending the boat dweller community!

The demonstration starts on Saturday 8th April 2017 at 12 noon. Assemble at Victoria Embankment Gardens, Villiers St, London WC2N 6NS for a march to Downing Street and on to DEFRA in Smith Square.

Please sign and encourage others to sign, share and tweet this petition;
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/boats-are-homes-prevent-the-eviction-of-boat-dwellers

Contact 07710160340 or secretariat@bargee-traveller.org.uk for more information

Facebook event:

https://m.facebook.com/events/608556772678442