Following much adverse publicity about evictions of vulnerable, elderly, ill and disabled boat dwellers, CRT has agreed to appoint a Boater Welfare Liaison Manager for an initial period of 12 months. The boating user groups also lobbied for this post to be created.We believe that the post will be advertised at the end of the summer.
The vast majority of the boat dwellers who had their homes seized and removed could still be living on the waterways if their welfare needs had been addressed and their rights to stay longer than 14 days in one place under Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act had been respected by CRT.
Unfortunately most of the boat dwellers who were subjected to the removal of their homes are victims of CRT’s unlawful policy of taking enforcement action against boats that do not move “far enough” rather than enforcement of section 17 3 c ii in the way that Parliament intended, that is, by taking enforcement action only against boats that stay longer than 14 days in one place without good reason.
Many boaters who need to stay near to a particular place because of their health needs or their children’s educational needs, or who cannot travel much because of age or disability, do move their boats every 14 days in an attempt to comply with the law. Those who move minimally and try to comply, as opposed to not moving at all and informing CRT that it is reasonable in the circumstances not to move, are being treated by CRT as non-compliant when they should be treated as boaters for whom it is reasonable in the circumstances to travel in the way that they do.
It is to be hoped that the Boater Welfare Liaison Manager takes full account of the rights of boat dwellers under Section 17 3 c ii and the rights of those who have protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 not to have the enforcement procedure applied to them in the same way as it is applied to boat dwellers who don’t have those protected characteristics, in other words who are not disabled, seriously ill, elderly or who are responsible for children.
Since January over 5,600 people have signed a petition calling on CRT to stop evicting disabled,elderly and ill boat dwellers. The petition is online here