Mark Walton, who is the only liveaboard boater without a home mooring on CRT’s Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) has reported back on discussion about visitor moorings within the Licensing and Mooring sub group of NAG. This discussion contradicts the previous CRT and BW drive to create more visitor moorings on the K&A and to extend existing ones, which Sally Ash had been trying to implement through the Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group in 2010-2011. The recent consultation on Towpath Mooring Plan for the K&A included a proposal that visitor moorings west of Devizes would be reviewed. This review would need to be consistent with any national changes recommended by NAG.
Mr Walton said that there is a broad consensus that the current designation of a visitor mooring doesn’t make much sense. If there are some places which are popular because of specific attractions or amenities (access to shops, visitor attractions, facilities etc) it was felt that there is an argument for having shorter stay times than 14 days, as is the case currently with 24 hour “stop and shop” moorings, for instance. NAG concluded that instead of having long stretches of 14 day visitor moorings, only those areas which need to be shorter than 14 days should be given a special designation of “short stay mooring” rather than “visitor mooring”. Quicker turnaround at these limited sites will mean they are available for more people passing through who need to use them, whether they are a local boater, someone from out of the area, a trade boat or a community boat. It was felt that in general there should be fewer “short stay” moorings than there are current “visitor moorings” and that everywhere else the default would be 14 days.
He added that these are not decisions, but they are likely to inform a new national policy on visitor moorings from CRT that will then need to debated and consulted upon locally to identify how many sites, where, and what the stay times should be.
NAG provides advice to the CRT operational staff, mainly to the Boating Team headed by Sally Ash. It meets every three months. It has two sub-groups: licensing and mooring, and navigation and operations. Mr Walton says that he applied to be part of that group and is there as an individual not as any kind of representative, although clearly he is there to give the perspective of a continuous cruiser. When the transfer of BW to CRT was debated in Parliament in June 2012, the then Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP assured Parliament on 26 June 2012 that:
“The CRT is also setting up a number of small advisory committees, one of which will have the task of advising senior managers responsible for boating and navigation matters. This committee will include at least one boater without a home mooring who understands and campaigns for the interests of itinerant live-aboard boaters”.