Consideration by CRT’s Navigation Advisory Group of the Local Mooring Strategy that was finalised by the Kennet and Avon Local Waterway Partnership has been unnacountably delayed. The Mooring Strategy was to be considered by the Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) on 24th April. However, it appears that CRT cancelled this meeting with no explanation and it is not known when the Navigation Advisory group will meet next.
Some boaters will be aware that in another part of the waterways, Sally Ash has been busy persuading boaters without home moorings to sign up for £800-a-year (for a 60ft boat) Roving Mooring Permits despite this option being categorically rejected by the K&A Local Waterway Partnership. These Roving Mooring Permits, which are being ‘agreed’ with liveaboard boaters on the southern Grand Union, are likely to be accompanied by an ‘agreement’ that boaters who do not accept the Roving Mooring Permits that they will travel from Watford to Brentford, a distance of about 20 miles, before turning round. This is entirely unlawful because there is no prohibition on turning round in Section 17(3)(c)(ii) of the 1995 British Waterways Act. Indeed, Parliament decided against setting any ‘no-return-within’ time limit for boats without home moorings during the drafting of the 1995 Act.
It looks very much as though CRT is delaying the consideration by NAG of the K&A mooring strategy while the agreement with boaters on the southern Grand Union for Roving Mooring Permits and a 20-mile minimum distance is finalised. This will mean two competing local mooring strategies that are different – one for the K&A and one for the southern Grand Union. Sally Ash will undoubtedly manouvre to suppress the K&A mooring strategy and roll out the southern Grand Union scheme across the system as she has proposed to do.
It will not look good for CRT or for Sally Ash to be seen to reject two successive attempts to agree a mooring strategy on the K&A. Neither will it be lawful to have two different so-called ‘interpretations’ of continuous cruising in two different areas.
The Roving Mooring Permits proposed to boaters on the southern Grand Union ‘allow’ the boater to remain within a 5-mile stretch of waterway. It is understood CRT has been in discussion with the Department of Work and Pensions to obtain an agreement that Housing Benefit can be paid to cover the cost of the permits. Most of the boaters who have been offered the permits have been subject to enforcement and are fearful of losing their homes. CRT has targeted these boaters to offer them the permits, presented as a way out of the enforcement process. Enforcement which will not be suspended once a boater has agreed to take a permit. Rumour has it that CRT has deliberately targeted boaters with enforcement in order to persuade them to accept the permits, but we cannot confirm this. However, the scheme amounts to no more than demanding money with menaces. There is no lawful basis on which CRT can issue these permits; the 1995 British Waterways Act does not make any provision for the issue of such permits under either Section 17(3)(c)(i) or (ii), the two alternative legal provisions under which a boat can be licensed.
Since Section 17(3)(c)(ii) does not specify a minimum distance that a boat without a mooring must travel to comply, boats are already entitled to do what the Roving Mooring Permit purports to ‘allow’ them to do.
We would point out that there is no lawful basis on which CRT can enforce either the provisions in the Kennet and Avon Local Mooring Strategy or the ’20 miles without turning round’ travel pattern for the southern Grand Union. Both of these proposals set movement requirements that are above and beyond what is required by Section 17(3)(c)(ii) and the only way that they can work is as voluntary agreements.
Here are the minutes of the meeting between boaters on the Grand Union and CRT in which these permits were discussed CUB Meeting Minutes 24 April final