BW to revive roving mooring permit idea

We have just obtained via Freedom of Information the minutes of a meeting on 28 May between BW and a number of boating organisations such as NABO, the RBOA and the IWA about the results of the recent consultations on moorings policy and local mooring strategies. APCO, the trade body for the hire boat industry, was also at the meeting. Not only do these minutes make it even clearer that the local mooring strategies are going to specifically target boats without moorings:

“The strategies should define how far a boater must move in order to comply with BW CC guidance”.

 These minutes also reveal that BW is reviving the idea of the Roving Mooring Permit:

“The idea of a new type of permit which grants the following was discussed:

The right to a winter mooring in designated areas.

The right to moor for up to X in a series of designated zones (defined by local mooring strategy but possibly up to one or two months in each zone, with a limit on the time you can stay in any specific zone before moving on to another zone – again defined by a local mooring strategy).

These permits would be purchased on an annual basis (enabling boaters to plan their year ahead)

They must cost pro rata, at least, as much as the average of the nearest set of BW long term, towpath, leisure moorings. It was felt there should be a premium on top of this to account for its towpath location (it should cost less or be cheaper to get a permanent mooring)”

 Let’s remind BW what boaters said the last time this kind of permit was proposed, and dropped by BW following strong opposition:

 “All boats already have the right to do what a roving mooring permit would allow”.

 The 1995 British Waterways Act does not prohibit a boat from remaining within a defined length of waterway. Section 17 (3) of the Act states that a boat without a mooring must be genuinely used for navigation throughout the period of the licence and must not remain in the same place for more than 14 days. There is no specific definition of “place” in the Act that prevents a boat from remaining in a defined length of waterway as long as it moves to a different place after 14 days. The Act does not specify that navigation must consist of a “progressive journey”. Last year, NABO obtained a Legal Opinion from Senior Barristers, which confirms that BW does not have the legal power to specify any particular cruising pattern or minimum distance, nor does it have the legal power to enforce anything over and above what is actually stated in the 1995 Act.

Finally, the meeting agreed “to convene another meeting to review mooring and CC guidelines with a view to making the guidance simpler and clearer”. This seems to be on the principle that if you repeat a lie often enough and loudly enough, people will believe it. Does BW really think that boaters don’t follow the Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers because it isn’t “simple” or “clear” enough? No, BW, boaters don’t follow it because it clearly states that it does not have the force of law, and because they know that BW does not have the legal power to enforce what is basically a guidance note.

 The full minutes of the meeting can be found here.

Final draft notes from BW moorings consultation meeting 28 May

We also asked for copies fo the email correspondence connected with this meeting. Here is an edited extract from these emails between Sally Ash and the other attendees of the meeting.

Dear Sally

Thank you for your considered response. In your revised paper, you have, “Visitor moorings should only exist where absolutely necessary – preferably defined by local strategies. Not all existing visitor moorings (<14 days) may necessarily be needed.” Previously this began with the term “Short-term moorings”. As it now stands, it seems ambiguous, implying that visitor moorings are deprecated. May I suggest an alternative: “Although the provision of Visitor Moorings is to be encouraged, specifying visitor moorings with limits less than 14 days should only be used as necessary – preferably as defined by local strategy groups.”

Regarding point 3 below – the online mooring reduction policy – the blanket pro-rata reduction in online moorings when marinas come on stream seems a very blunt instrument. There are some locations where on-line mooring reduction is unnecessary just because a marina has been opened. NABO is in favour of a more detailed review of online mooring locations, unrelated to marinas. Also, there are several sites where a reduction in permanent moorings near towns or villages could have been used to provide short-term visitor moorings -hopefully this will be dealt with by either local moorings strategy groups or by consultation with local representatives of boaters.

Under your priorities you say, “Preparing new policy paper for approval by BW directors, then publication (we propose to model this on the structure of the EA’s Management of Short-Stay Visitor Moorings on the Thames)”. I note that this refers to the structure of the EA’s paper, not the content.

I must reiterate NABO’s objection to supplementary charging for visitor moorings as specified in the EA “Position Statement 1”, bullet-points 2 & 3: “Mooring will be free of charge for an initial period (generally 24 hours) unless otherwise stated” and “Mooring charges may be payable after the initial period. Charges in force will be clearly set out in signage and ongoing mooring taken to indicate acceptance of them.” We believe that the licence fee covers all visitor mooring charges and would not be happy with this point if BW were to include it.

Furthermore, I understood that the BW consultation process and our meeting was of a similar mind.

I expected to see further work on continuous cruising guidelines somewhere in your list of priorities, in line with the meeting notes: ” Continuous cruising guidelines: It was agreed to convene another meeting to review mooring and CC guidelines with a view to making the guidance simpler and clearer.”

Hope this helps.


On 21/06/2010 13:38, Sally Ash wrote:

Dear All

Thanks to those of you who responded with comments on Damian’s draft notes.  We have considered them all and made some amends.  Attached is a ‘clean’ new version, and one that highlights the changes from the 6 June one.   You’ll probably notice that I have been fairly ruthless in places where we were previously saying the same thing in more words.

It would be really helpful – for the sake of expected FOI requests – if you would confirm by email that the notes are now a reasonable reflection of the discussion and its conclusions.    Please could you try to do this – or let me have any further comments by the end of this week (25/6/10)?

Short responses to the main points raised:

Taking action on unauthorised residential use  – I think Damian’s words were perhaps more specific than we’d actually said in the policy document and I’ve proposed alternative wording in attached

Several of you understandably raised the enforcement issue:  I have added a couple of paras on this at the beginning of the document.  Despite the discussion, I am disappointed that some of you still seem to think that it would be a simple matter for BW to ‘simply’ do more effective enforcement.  The 1995 act does not contain a nice clear-cut ‘suite of rules’. We acknowledge that there are shortcomings in our current processes for enforcement of mooring rules and within our current business plan, we have an objective of improving these so that customers will begin to see an improvement – just as they did with licence enforcement two years ago.  Such work is neither simple not costless and is not therefore the ‘silver bullet’ that appears to be the perception.  This is why we need to supplement it with local strategies and a re-think of mooring rules.

X commented “It was agreed that online mooring reduction policy is necessary but the existing one needs further refinement.  What D’s notes said was   “It was agreed that the policy will continue .  New process is about to be activated to improve recording of berth closures associated with each new marina.”   I don’t understand what’s wrong with that.

I have edited the para in previous version referring to Waterways for Tomorrow in the light of today’s announcement attached

Our next priorities are:

Publishing the final report on the consultation.  We will weave in the conclusions of our meeting to qualify the terms of our original proposals.

Preparing new policy paper for approval by BW directors, then publication (we propose to model this on the structure of the EA’s Management of Short-Stay Visitor Moorings on the Thames)

Developing internal procedures to implement the policy, including creation of the new mooring permit and updating our enforcement methods

Setting up K&A strategy work

Thanks again for your help. 


Hi Sally et al

I am somewhat surprised no one else has remarked on the absence of a note to the effect:

“There was unanimous (or near unanimous) agreement that if BW applied the suite of rules granted them by the 1995 act to control the use and abuse of casual moorings the need for a local mooring strategy would be reduced if not completely eliminated.” Given it was reported that this sentiment was a common feature in the responses to the consultation it seems to me it would be disingenuous not to include such a statement.

With respect to the comment from B, as D has said this was the position agreed in Paddington. It is a perfectly reasonable position for BW to take that if a complaint is made, which will almost always come from the Local Authority, they should react and take whatever steps are required to deal with that specific complaint. If however there are no complaints there is no need for BW to initiate action. This does not mean that the boater can do whatever they like, they still have to obey the general and specific mooring rules and regulations which BW will enforce.


Dear Sally


No doubt to H’s dismay I do not recall agreeing to the last point in the summary on residential moorings i.e.

It was agreed that BW should not initiate action against residential use of LT leisure moorings. BW is obliged to take action if approached by a planning authority. That seems too blanket a statement and many caveats would need to be included before I would sign up to such an abdication of duties by BW.


On Mon, 7/6/10, Sally Ash wrote:

Very many thanks to you all for putting in such hard work on 28th.  Here are draft notes which I hope capture the key points reasonably accurately and fairly:  please could you email back any comments or corrections – say by close of play Friday 11th June?

Best wishes


From: Sally Ash

Sent: 14 May 2010 18:16

Subject: Mooring policy – meeting 28 May

 Dear All

Just a note to ask you to look out for a package of papers early next week.  We rather hope you might find the time to look through the report of the feedback on the consultation in preparation for the discussion.  This comprises about 60 powerpoint slide in full colour so thought it kindest to send to you as paper. 

The outputs we would like to achieve from the meeting include answers to the following:

•          What should be the headline conclusion for each of the questions in the questionnaire to play back to stakeholders?

•          What decisions should we recommend to BW’s directors in respect of each of the following:

 –         Local mooring strategies

–         Application of zoning and charges in high use areas

–         Confirmation of existing online mooring reduction policy

–         Measures for managing congestion

 –         Residential moorings

 –         Any other issues?

We will begin the meeting by working through the response slides:  it would be very helpful if you could bring along with you your copy of the presentation on which you have noted your personal impressions and conclusions from each slide – we need to focus on ‘what does this mean and what should we do about it?”   We will capture key points from this as we go along and then re-cap to formulate draft recommendations.

We have also prepared a draft report on the subsidiary local consultations consultation and a copy of this will be included in your pack.

Many thanks in advance for your help.   If you have any queries on receipt of the package, please contact our project officer, Damian Kemp on 01452 318027.  I’m on leave until 24th May.

Looking forward to seeing you on 28th

Kind regards


Sally Ash

Head of Boating

01923 201229 / 07710 175448

64 Clarendon Road, Watford , WD17 1DA

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to “BW to revive roving mooring permit idea”

  1. Panda MonsterID Icon Panda says:

    A boater has asked us to post this comment:

    Thanks for this. I see in your quotes from the document you omitted the sentences “BW should accept payment via housing benefit where applicable”. Add in this element, and the result is something that reminds me of the rules back in the old days of the workhouse. There were two types of inmates: the poor of the parish, who ended up in the local workhouse, and the vagrants and casual workers, who were kept separate and only allowed to stay a certain time before they must move on to a different workhouse (as explained to me by someone who in the 1930’s was in this situation). Likewise, under these plans, there will be two types of boaters eligible for housing benefit if they are poor: the lucky ones with residential moorings (treated like the poor of the parish) and those with roving mooring permits (forced to move on after a time like the vagrants in workhouses).

    In my pre-election song
    I wrote that David Cameron would be “turning the clock back to the miners’ strike with Tebbit telling you to get on your bike”. I was wrong – it seems the coalition wants to turn the clock back further than this.

    Would the proposals to change BW into a charitable trust alter their proposals? For example, all of their activities would have to meet the public benefit test for charities.