The Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group has wasted a lot of time talking about its ‘vision’ for the Kennet and Avon Canal. We thought it would be useful to make this statement of our aims in a Boat Dwellers’ Charter. Please give us your comments!
Boat Dwellers’ Charter
The primary use of the Kennet and Avon canal is as a canal, that is, a waterway for the movement of boats and canalside land for operational purposes including the mooring of boats.
The canal is a temporary or permanent home to an estimated 500 to 700 adults and children who live on boats. These boat dwellers are entitled to special protection under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act – the right to respect for one’s home, family and private life – the same protection which the settled community enjoy for their homes.
A full British Waterways licence entitles the holder to cruise all of BW’s canals and rivers.
That boat dwellers are able to live their lives free from the threat of losing their homes, whether that threat is direct or indirect, provided they abide by the 1995 British Waterways Act.
That BW remains within the 1995 Act when carrying out enforcement and does not seek to enforce rules, policies, guidance, mooring codes or any other conditions that are above and beyond what is required by the 1995 Act.
That there is no reduction in the amount of 14-day mooring space along the canal.
That boat dwellers are able to live their lives free from prejudice and interference by the settled community.
That BW defends the interests of liveaboard and other boaters where there appears to be a conflict of interest between boaters and the settled community.
That BW enforces the 14-day rule fairly and consistently, in a departure from its current practice of using its statutory powers in a patchy and partial manner.
That liveaboard boaters themselves take responsibility for ensuring that they individually and collectively adhere to the 14-day rule and do not overstay unless the circumstances warrant it.
Indicators of success
Boats without moorings do not overstay beyond 14 days in one place except when a longer stay is reasonable in the circumstances.
Adults and children living on boats are able to access employment, education, health care and social participation in a way that meets their individual needs.
Boaters without moorings understand that staying longer than 14 days in one place without good reason puts them at risk of enforcement action by BW including the possibility of Section 8.
Boaters without moorings feel secure that as long as they adhere to the 14-day rule (and licence their boats) they will not risk losing their home or their access to employment, education, health care and social participation.
The liveaboard boating community is respected by the settled community for its diverse, independent and resourceful nature.
There is minimal conflict between liveaboard boaters and BW.
There is minimal conflict between liveaboard boaters and the settled community.