Consultation, bottom upwards

During a recent meeting of those of us interested in these issues an interesting point came up.

There’s some interesting comments starting to come in on this topic.


We have extensively trashed the mooring proposals, essentially on the grounds that they are imposed with the unspoken agenda, unspoken except by Sally “Whoops” Eichmann, to reduce the number of liveaboards on the Western Kennet and Avon.

However, as the people who know what goes on down here we do recognise that it is a Good Idea to restrict mooring at wharves and popular visitor attractions to those needing wharfage and visiting leisure boats or holiday makers who may not be experienced in mooring.

We can point to those visitor moorings that function in this respect; Bath Top Lock, Darlington Wharf, Bathampton Wharf and by the George etc. We can also point to those nepotic restrictions such as the one outside Councillor Dewey’s house in Bathampton or the stretch at Dundas that serve no purpose other than to attempt to keep certain canalside residents free from having to look at those horrible boats.

These are generally ‘enforced’ by the £25 per day and £50 per day charge warnings but over the last few years these have lost their teeth because the reality is that they are unlawful and unenforceable. This has led to more and more boaters squatting those moorings because they don’t have to walk far to the car or other such lazy excuses – and we all know who they are.

So, given that it is a good idea to give and take a little and recognise that we are not the only users of the canal what do you suggest?

We are shortly to announce a number of meetings to discuss our approach to the consultations and it would be really good to put forward some positive proposals in the responses.

Tags: , , , , ,

12 Responses to “Consultation, bottom upwards”

  1. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    I am simply stating what the Law is and not interpreting it. 28 days is 28 days boxe not 14. It is the duty of the Board to manage the waterways, and NOT for vigilante groups, stasi or hitler youth to spy on their neighbours

  2. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    No richard. It is not for you, or any self appointed peer group, to decide what constitutes reasonable behaviour, and certainly not to make judgements of character that may or may not be right. Your polemic is a reactionary and divisive. Every boater is legitimate and in our many different ways we stand together – one. None are lazy nor selfish.

    • admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

      “self appointed peer group” What the fuck is one of these? Get real, Paul. And “reactionary” I haven’t heard that term in many a long year. So who, apart from your good self is to be the arbitrator of what is ‘reasonable in the circumstances”?

      It is hypocritical to talk about the use of the law and then advocate the pushing of the 14 days to 42 days on a regular basis because you think you have found some kind of loophole.

      Your views on this topic make you a minority of one and undermine the efforts of the rest of us to try and make BW stick within the law. A law that a lot of good people spent a long time arguing about to beat BW back from their stated aim of ‘no mooring, no licence’.

  3. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    Interesting. 1995.17.3.c.ii is far from explicit, open to numerous interpretations, and should therefore be understood and applied very generously. Routinely threatening homelessness by scaring boaters with section 8s and section 13s, and letters advising us to seek alternative housing from the Council is draconian. This has to be challenged under ECHR. 14 days becomes very easy to argue with when government consultations themselves seek to address the failures of authorities such as BW south west who mis-manage our canal, mis-apply Law and move the perceived problem from one place to another place and back again. Its a stupid hand of ping pong. See the website of FAMILY FRIENDS AND TRAVELLERS, an advocate group for gypsy and travelling folk like us. The government consultation makes interesting reading. We will fail only if we continue to read 1995 in isolation. By itself, the Act is an untidy read and far too restrictive. Finally, boaters are NOT lazy. Life on the cut is hard work. No one freeloads. If some boaters resent paying for moorings with no services or facilities, they are very welcome to join the many private pleasure boaters who cruise the beautiful valley. Double mooring permits free access for all. No one hogs the bank. BWsw are the problem, not boaters

    • posh MonsterID Icon posh says:

      I think we must agree to disagree.

      I read 1995 17 c as explicit and as such need not be interpreted by either BW or boaters who have their own axes to grind. As a travelling community, travelling defines us. Movement is the core of our lifestyle. The requirement to move every 14 days or what is reasonable is not arduous, it really is not.

      Yes, we have something in common with other, non water based, travelling groups as represented by the Family, Friends & Travellers Trust. For example, we do suffer prejudicial treatment for the authorities (namely BW). The illegal requirement to make a progressive journey and the recent suggestion for local groups to make policy reducing available mooring exemplify this. Other travellers may suffer prejudicial treatment from local government, police and settle communities. This is our common ground.

      However, our aims are not necessarily the same. Our right to travel the waterways is defined in the 1995 Act. A minority of road travellers seek legal sites to park up while continuing to travel while many more seek permanent sites. We do not need permanent sites. If we did, we could seek a mooring. I think the principle of transit sites or permanent sites if applied to the waterways would be the death of our lifestyle. Remember, we are travellers with somewhere to travel, the means of travelling and a requirement to do so. This is precious!

      I just want to confirm my position on laziness and, as I said previously, selfishness, amongst a minority of boaters. Boaters in general and in the majority, display neither of this traits. It is the minority who seek to treat bankside as there own for long periods who I would characterise in this way.

      All lifestyles (even house ownership) require elements of hard work and as such I do not consider our life on the cut as harder than any other. I find it a fulfilling way of life and the daily tasks required to facilitate it are simply part of it. As such these tasks should not used to justify a boaters wish not to undertake the required movement and thus share their temporary mooring with other legitimate boaters. Non-movement really is just laziness and selfishness. The resentment it causes IS detrimental to our wish to protect the viable travelling status of our community.

      I would never characterise any community as whiter than white. If I did, my arguments would not be taken seriously. To say that” BWsw are the problem, not boaters” is too simplistic. Yes, BW are an ineffective, inefficient, bigoted organisation. No argument. Equally, the vast majority of boaters are aware of their responsibilities to the law, their community and the broader community. But it cannot be argued that those who do not move when they can reasonably do so are not a problem. They are.

  4. poshratz MonsterID Icon poshratz says:

    Just want to reply to Paul’s assertion that:-

    “…There is nothing wrong with choosing to live somewhere for more than 14 days…”.

    I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how cruising boats should approach mooring on the canal. The 14 day rule is written in law. Where other areas of legislation are woolly, this seems explicit. It is qualified by “…or what is reasonable in the circumstances” which generously provides cruising boats a bit of leeway when broken down or facing emergency such as ill-health or when severe weather hits. As such it is hard to argue with and if adhered to makes our lifestyle as travelling boats viable. It should be respected and protected.

    Not only is this the clause in law that defines our right to viably live on the canal, it is a principle of fairness. Boaters who moor for weeks on end in the same spot deny fellow boaters the opportunity to utilise that mooring. This is selfishness and potentially laziness. After all, we all contribute the same license fee and thus should have the same opportunity to access particular mooring spots.

    Also those who moor in the same spot interminably create bad feeling with boaters who pay for long term moorings. They feel that cruising boats who behave like this are ‘free-loading’. Though, thankfully, only a small minority of cruising boats behave in this way, it can reflect on the wider community of cruising boats, generate complaint and add strength to BWs malignant campaign against legitimate cruising boats.

    Our license and our adherence to the 14 day rule are the key requirements to legitimate boating on the canal. They should be celebrated as definitive elements of our lifestyle.

  5. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    Personally, I’d like to see BW act like a public authority who manage the waterways in a fair and equal manor. A good starting point for them would be embrace recent government consultations advising managers like BW to provide 3 month transient sites for travellers where none currently exist, with a fair mix of these located on soft bank and hard ground in both rural and urban locations as advised in consultation. (Even hire boats have gang planks.) Failure to do so simply leaves itinerent boaters vulnerable to BW’s mismanagement of our canal. There is nothing wrong with choosing to live somewhere for more than 14 days, but it is quite unreasonable for BW to deny free access at the expense of part time users. Having said this, I fully acknowledge that the canal network is jointly and equally owned by every taxpaying individual. It is OUR network! Unlawful restrictions created through misinterpretations of primary legislation cannot be permitted, or supported, by adhering to them. Continually threatening individuals, families and oap’s with homelessness on such a basis has to be challenged in Law. On your bike mate 🙂

  6. Tschawo MonsterID Icon Tschawo says:

    Well said Mr Fox.
    I say a wharf is a wharf. It’s for loading and unloading, trans-shipping, getting access to services such as water and fuel and having essential boat maintenance work done. I’d add births, marriages, injuries, illness, emergencies and deaths too – we do live here after all. Add in touring boats for good measure, and I can’t really see any good reason for boats not involved in the above to be there for extended periods.
    That’s why I find winter moorings on wharfs to be an annoyance, and why liveaboards hanging around on them for their own general convenience an insult to everyone else.
    Love, peace and respect!

  7. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    My post suggests no exclusion. I do challenge, as you do, BW’s exclusion of live aboard private pleasure boat owners as a primary group. I would, however, argue that the needs of holiday makers are considered over our local community. There is plenty of room for on this canal for both groups. The only conflict here, as we all know, is BW managerial policy that divides and rules. My post, and my ideas are, far from being blinkered, well considered. Peace

  8. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    Interesting. Would anyone agree that mooring restrictions, as they stand, in and around urban areas such as widcombe, bathampton and bradford on avon serve to restrict live aboard boaters access to services and facilities in these areas? Off season restrictions such as winter moorings on hard standing bank ensure easy access to urban areas are further denied. Boaters seem to be pushed to the margins of these essential areas with new consultations seeking to further deny freedom of choice and lifestyle. Sure, its great to live amid the beauty of the valley, but for live aboards – the primary users on the cut – to be disregarded at the expense of secondary users should not, I suggest, be tolerated. I suggest giving half of the current restricted moorings to hire pleasure boats, and make half unrestricted for live aboard private pleasure boat users. A fairer deal for all.

    • The Fox MonsterID Icon The Fox says:

      This Paul, is exactly what my post was about. The liveaboard boaters are an important part of BW’s customer base but they are not the “primary users” and certainly not to the exclusion of other users. One of the real issues (as opposed to the corporate crap we are currently debating) is that there is a perception by other users that the liveaboard boaters think they are the primary or even only users of the canal.

      So why don’t you look outside your blinkered box for once and give some consideration to your relationship with all the other users. You have a bike, it matters not whether you have to cycle a mile or two into Bath. If I came to visit on my boat from far away, or if i had hired a boat for a short week or two then i would hope to moor in town. If I live here 24/7 then I don’t mind leaving those moorings for others, maybe use them for a few days for my mum to visit.

      What this post is about, and the point you haven’t addressed, is what mechanism should be in place to ensure sharing – we will not call it rationing – of visitor moorings happens in the face of abuse by liveaboards who insist on living within 200 yards of their cars.

  9. Cat Amongst The Pigeons MonsterID Icon Cat Amongst The Pigeons says:

    Hello all,

    Very well done, the website is fantastic and a perfect forum for opinion and information.

    I also have been extensively perusing the mooring proposals and trying to understand/determine the possible affects upon our way of life. This appears to be a deeply concerning issue for us all, with deplorable future ramifications that could affect the whole network and not just the local targeted area currently under the spotlight.

    That said and as far as I can see it, (looking through the smog of wordy piffle created by BW as a distraction) we have a few issues we need to address as soon as possible.

    1. Why hasn’t there been any substantial previous local consultation/canvassing regarding any future mooring proposals from BW to the boaters themselves (their customers). If it does exist where are the listed findings. Note: a survey was undertaken last year by the RBOA but was not specifically requested to address the issues we are currently facing locally, for further info on that see the BW website.

    2. Therefore we are all in the unfortunate position of having very little representation, prior to the current release and importantly at this time when BW appear to have drawn up their own agenda without any focused boater feedback or input.

    3. What worries me the most are the mechanics and structure of the consultancy process itself, the response forms are heavily loaded to BW’s desires, therefore restricting any great change in the proceedings at this stage or in the future. The eventual Steering Group members must accept BW’s objectives set out in their proposals and it appears are only concerned with a method of implementing what has been decided already.

    4. The big one I think is this, “It is not intended that this consultation nor the consequent strategy development process should be a forum for debating BW’s interpretation of Section 17(3)(c) of the British Waterways Act concerning continuous cruisers. This interpretation is explained in Appendix 2 of Moorings policy for BW’s network in England & Wales, 29/10/09. The scope is limited to the mechanics of establishing an effective local strategy steering group. The time for debating specific proposals for zoning areas for different types of mooring will come later.”
    Therefore cleverly avoiding the real issue and as far as I can see it, the realistic implementation of their current powers is the only way to address the problem.

    So as mentioned in the insightful and honest post above “Consultation, bottom upwards – lazy excuses and we know who they are” statement, raises the very valid and important opinion that things must change in our own backyards/decks if we are to have any chance of gaining a satisfactory result/representation.

    The support along the canal is beginning raise and gain momentum as is the awareness of what is at steak here, but ask yourself this question, can you as a boater truly expect individuals or groups to stick their necks out and fight BW on your behalf if you can’t be arsed to move “place to place every 14 days”.

    There lies our power and conviction.

    Peace and nuff said for now!

    A Pigeon. X

Leave a Reply