CRT declines to withdraw derogatory statements about boaters without home moorings

CRT Chief Executive Robin Evans has responded negatively to the boaters’ complaint which we published below about the content of Trustees’ briefing TT06. He has declined to end the use of the term “continuous moorers” and “CMs” and has failed to address most of the issues in the complaint. We publish his reply here:

“I refer to your letter outlining two complaints against the Trust. These complaints are:

1. The content of Paragraphs 2.1 to 2.3 of the Trustees’ briefing document TT06: Major Issues for the Trustees to Discuss at Future Meetings, covering ‘Continuous Cruisers’.
2. The refusal to admit us to the Trustees’ meeting in September when the issue of ‘Continuous Cruisers’ will be discussed.

I am responding to your complaint in the first instance. You have given a very full explanation of your complaint in the above letter and your views on this subject matter are well known to me.  I therefore did not consider it necessary to meet or speak to you to get any further background information.

Complaint 1 – The content of Paragraphs 2.1 to 2.3 of the Trustees’ briefing document TT06: Major Issues for the Trustees to Discuss at Future Meetings, covering “Continuous Cruisers”.

Your first complaint is about the use of the phrase ‘continuous moorers’. The paper describes a group of boaters who claim continuous cruising licences but who do not comply with the statutory requirement that the vessel in question be used “bona fide for navigation throughout the period of the licence”. It then says “They have become known as continuous moorers”.

This is a fact as the term is frequently and freely used amongst the main boating groups and in the waterway press. Using the term helps the Trustees understand the issue as they will have heard the term in their travels around the network. I do not consider it is pejorative, derogatory or inaccurate.

You have provided a detailed breakdown of the briefing document TT06 outlining where you question the appropriateness of the language or the interpretation of our understanding of the perceptions and activities surrounding this issue. I do not propose to respond to each of your observations and comments. However I have read through the document again in the light of your complaints. There are areas where we simply disagree. I do not consider in such cases that we are wrong- we just have a different view.  In other areas you have taken the words to imply attitudes or  policies within the Trust which do not exist. Having reviewed your letter and the original document I have not found anything that I consider should be withdrawn or rewritten.

Complaint 2 – The refusal to admit us to the Trustees’ meeting in September when the issue of “Continuous Cruisers” will be discussed.

The Trustees meet from time to time to oversee the work of the Trust. They gather information and guidance from many different sources inside and outside of the Trust and of course have available the broad experience and expertise of the individuals around the table. It is for the trustees to decide how they conduct their meetings and who they decide should be invited to attend (if anyone). At least one of the trustees has already met with you and you have articulated your views in a number of different letters and forums attended by some of them. Your views are therefore very well known to them and they have decided not to invite you or anyone else from outside the Trust to their meeting.

The trustees and the Trust in general always seek to manage the waterways to maximise the public benefit and in a way that ‘commands the support and adherence of as many people as possible’. It seeks a consensus wherever it can but on occasions this is not possible. We would certainly look to a much wider audience than yourselves for confirmation that we are meeting these objectives. I therefore consider the trustees are entitled to decide who attends their meetings and there is no reason for them to change their minds and invite you to their meeting.

I have responded to your complaint in accordance with the Trust’s complaints procedure. This procedure would normally invite you to escalate your complaint to a second internal level if you are unhappy with this response. However because your complaint concerns a paper I have written and a decision by the trustees, I suggest you should refer your complaint to the Waterway Ombudsman if you are dissatisfied with this response.

Yours sincerely

Robin Evans
Chief Executive
Canal & River Trust”

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