Continuous cruising report throws more light on BW/CRT unlawful enforcement strategy

An enforcement officer’s project that consisted of intensive enforcement action against a selected group of liveaboards without home moorings provides more information about CRT/BW’s enforcement strategy. The “Final Report into non-compliance of British Waterways Continuous Cruiser regulations on the South Oxford Canal” shows that CRT/BW is sending enforcement letters to boaters that are designed to pressure them to travel longer distances, without telling them what distance is considered acceptable to avoid enforcement action.

The Pre-CC1 letters allege that boaters are not travelling far enough to comply with “legal requirements” but do not inform them of of CRT/BW’s target of putting “all boats that travel less than 30km during their contract period into the enforcement process”. As a result of receiving these letters, some of the 91 boats selected for harassment were pressurised into travelling far more than 30km, and others left CRT/BW waterways altogether.

Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act does not specify any particular cruising pattern or minimum distance that boats without home moorings must travel, which is why the 30km target is unlawful and why CRT/BW cannot publicise this target. However, we know about it from a Freedom of Information request – see our previous article

In the continuous cruising report, the enforcement officer complains that “Having an adjoining waterway not controlled by British Waterways makes enforcement more difficult as boats can move between the two areas to avoid further action.” This absolutely beggars belief. Boaters are free to take their boats onto any navigation authority’s waters (if they obtain the relevant licence). CRT/BW’s enforcers just have to live with the fact that they are not the only navigation authority in the country. It throws a lot of light on the bullying mindset that they wish they could pursue boats even after they leave CRT/BW jurisdiction – regardless of the fact that they have already successfully applied pressure and harassment and forced the boat off their waterways. The summary report for the project states “It is evident that by applying pressure to boats to comply with the continuous cruiser guidelines around 50% have increased their movement.”

The report demonstrates that the real agenda behind the campaign of harassment against itinerant boat dwellers is to force more boats to take moorings. This is what BW wanted in 1990 – that every boat should have a mooring. Parliament did not consider this appropriate, which is why Section 17 3 c ii exists.

The  report also states that “As we move forward and target a wider group of boats across more areas I think more continuous cruisers will become aware that they need to move more regularly and over larger distances although it may not be achievable to reach the 30km target for continuous cruisers for some years.”

However, the author also expresses concern about the cost to the CRT of taking enforcement action: “As a customer focused charity all of our customers will be important to us including those living and working from their boats.”

“One of the considerations to take into account before proceeding with enforcement action is the financial cost to the new Trust if we decide to enforce against all craft that are not moving on a ‘bona fide’journey.”

There are two reports of this project, a full report in October 2011 with a separate appendix, and a final report in  March 2012. You can download them here:

Continuous Cruiser Project Full Report October 2011

Continuous Cruiser Project Full report Appendix 1

Continuous Cruiser Project Final Report March 2012

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6 Responses to “Continuous cruising report throws more light on BW/CRT unlawful enforcement strategy”

  1. Panda MonsterID Icon Panda says:

    In other words

    *Boats licensed under sections 17 3 c i and ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act are not houseboats.

    *A boat licensed under section 17 3 c i (ie a boat that has a home mooring) is not required to be used bona fide for navigation, even when it is not on its mooring.

    *A houseboat is defined in the same Act as a boat that is not used bona fide for navigation. To licence a houseboat, you need a Houseboat Certificate as specified in section 16 and schedule 1 of the 1995 British Waterways Act. You can only get a Houseboat Certificate if your boat is on a BW/CRT mooring with planning permission for residential use.

    *Therefore, a boat with a home mooring that is licensed under s.17 3 c i is actually a houseboat that is incorrectly licensed, because it is not required to be used bona fide for navigation, and yet it does not have a Houseboat Certificate.

    Therefore, there is an anomaly in the legislation, which is what Paul pointed out.

    • Neil Unwin MonsterID Icon Neil Unwin says:

      Paul states “90% of licenced boats with home moorings are acting unlawfully” This would refer, I assume, to the boats that are used as pleasure craft, are not licensed as houseboats, cruise the network as they wish, and have home moorings.
      I see no reason why the owners of these boats should licence as houseboats, as they are still used for cruising. Even the more liberal interpretation of the act that is suggested doesn’t make these houseboats. Panda, I have scoured the act for where it says ‘A houseboat is defined in the same Act as a boat that is not used bona fide for navigation’, but I can’t find it, could you post a link for me.
      Just because there is a link between moored boats and houseboats does not make them one and the same, any more than an HGV and a motorcyle are to be licensed the same because both can carry cargo.

      It is Pauls contention that pleasure craft with a mooring are acting unlawfully that I am struggling to understand.

      Here is a copy of schedule 1 of the 1995 BW act.

      Movement of houseboat15(1)The houseboat may be moved from place to place but while being so moved may not be navigated for hire.
      (2)While the houseboat is in the course of being moved the certificate shall be deemed to be—
      (i)a pleasure boat certificate for the purposes of Part II of the Act of 1971, where the houseboat is on a river waterway within the meaning of section 4 (Extent of Part II) of that Act; or
      (ii)a pleasure boat licence issued by the Board, when the houseboat is on any other inland waterway;
      and its use at such times shall be subject to any conditions for the time being in force for the control of pleasure boats and the holder shall comply with any requirements made by or under any enactment applicable to pleasure boats.

      A pleasure craft licence entitles people to cruise, it doesn’t make it compulsory.

      • Panda MonsterID Icon Panda says:

        Apologies Neil, the definitions of Houseboat and Pleasure boat used in the 1995 Act are those in Section 3 (1) of the 1971 British Waterways Act. I’ll post the extract here as soon as I find a copy that I can take extracts from. Any blame for the incorrect licensing of boats under Section 17 (3) (c) i of the 1995 Act lies with BW/CRT, not with the owners of the boats, who basically have no choice. When the 1995 Act went through the Parliamentary Select Committee stages, many people argued that a new definition of Houseboat was required, because the 1971 definition was nonsensical in the context of the legislation BW was trying to obtain (that every boat should have a mooring with criminal penalties for anyone caught living on their boat without a mooring). BW was adamant at the time that a new definition was not needed, and Parliament accepted BW’s arguments against it. I suspect this may have been a trade-off for the considerable amendments that Parliament did make, including the existence of Section 17 (3) (c) ii which BW really did not want.

        • Neil Unwin MonsterID Icon Neil Unwin says:

          Thanks for clarifying that Panda, I’m aware that there are cases where boats are incorrectly licensed, and that this is an ongoing problem.

          A copy of this act would help people make an educated decision about the licensing of their boats, I would rather people have the information before doing anything rash!

  2. Neil Unwin MonsterID Icon Neil Unwin says:

    Paul, I’m afraid this contention is not correct.

    The 1995 British Waterways Act Section 17 Subsection 3(c) clearly states:

    (i)the Board are satisfied that a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably be kept and may lawfully be left will be available for the vessel, whether on an inland waterway or elsewhere; or
    (ii)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

    Any boat with a mooring satisfies (i) above, and therefore is legally compliant with the conditions of its licence. The law requires that boats sans moorings satisfy (ii) above, the operative words being here being ‘either’ and ‘or’.

    I fail to see how impugning other canal users helps your case, and how misinforming people of the law pertaining to their vessels protects them ‘against homelessness, unemployment and statutory abuse’ The best advice is, if you don’t have a mooring, cruise your boat. It’s always worked for me.

  3. Paul Biddy MonsterID Icon Paul Biddy says:

    If, as bw claim, a boat must possess a canal and river licence with the intention of navigating in good faith (as required in law), then 90% of licenced boats with home moorings are acting unlawfully. Following this logic, boats are unlawfully present on the canals because bw permit them to be so, and the 90% of licenced pleaasure boats are the worst offenders – NOT the 10% without home moorings. Brutish waterways/crt use of moorng permits (and section 43) that let boats evade the requirements of primary legislation is a nonsense – a sham – a fraud. Always always defend yourself, and others, against homelessness, unemployment and statutory abuse.