Around 30 boat dwellers without home moorings and supporters from the local community took part in a protest opposite Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) office in Devizes on 6th August 2016.
The demonstrators handed out leaflets and spoke to walkers and passing hire boaters about the punitive and unlawful enforcement policy of CRT against boaters without permanent moorings, which has seen many boat dwellers on the Kennet and Avon Canal having their licences restricted to 6 months; threatened with losing their homes; being pressured into giving up their homes; boats being seized and boat children’s education and welfare suffering due to the long distances they are being forced to travel to school.
They told visitors to the Caen Hill flight that enforcement against boaters without home moorings has become progressively more vindictive since the transfer of BW to CRT and despite the fact that CRT is a charity.
On 17th June 2016 a meeting took place in Bradford on Avon between boat dwellers, Michelle Donelan MP, head teachers, local councillors and CRT’s Chief Executive Richard Parry. At this meeting, the head of Bathampton Primary School called CRT’s enforcement policy ‘inhumane’ and Wiltshire Councillor Magnus Macdonald described CRT’s enforcement as ‘shoot first and ask questions afterwards’. The head teachers expressed their concern about the effect of CRT’s enforcement policy on the welfare of boat children. The meeting was facilitated by boat dwellers and Bradford on Avon Community Area Network.
According to CRT’s Boaters without a home mooring Monitoring review update of June 2016, 24 liveaboard boater households are currently facing court action to remove their boats. A total of 357 boaters have been forced to sell their boats, to leave CRT waterways or to take a home mooring, in most cases one that they cannot lawfully live on because most moorings do not have residential planning permission. So far 1,361 boaters have been put into the enforcement process by having their licence renewal refused or restricted, with all the associated stress, worry and pressure that is involved. Some 41 boaters who were refused a 12-month licence renewal had the decision reversed following a complaint. Many more boaters who have travelled within a range of greater than 15 to 20 miles have had their licence renewal restricted. even if they have travelled in a linear fashion.
In the year to November 2015 CRT spent almost half a million (£434,000) on legal fees to its solicitors Shoosmiths, according to a Freedom of Information repsonse by CRT. Shoosmiths now operate the last stage of CRT’s enforcement process under contract and act for CRT in evicting boat dwellers.
You can read the full enforcement report here 24805-cc-monitoring-review-june-2016