The first two meetings of the Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group took place on 26 August and 21 September. Boaters attended both meetings, and there were also representatives from NABO and the RBOA. Much of the discussion in both meetings focused on whether BW had the legal powers to impose the restrictions they wish, which they have set out in their new policies (see our previous articles on BW’s new policies http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/wordpress/?p=1014 and http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/wordpress/?p=1001 ). The Local Mooring Strategy has a very limited remit, basically being about where geographically to impose the new restrictions between Bath and Foxhangers. According to BW, the new policies are not up for discussion. Despite attempts to convince BW that the restrictions they want to impose will be unenforceable if they are not legal, the Chair, BW’s Sally Ash, said at the last meeting that she was not concerned with the law. She also said “forget the progressive journey” at the first meeting in response to a similar question from a boater. It remains to be seen whether this statement is an accurate reflection of BW policy. We know from experience, however, that BW are very good at being unconcerned whether their actions are legal. At one point in the meeting on 21 September, one of the boaters was accused of not being willing to work with the rest of the group to establish the mooring strategy and therefore she had no right to be there. She pointed out that her main purpose for being there was to prevent people from becoming homeless.
A significant number of the people around the table are in favour of BW enforcing the 14-day rule fairly and consistently, rather than imposing new restrictions of questionable legality, as the 14-day rule is a remedy against boats that overstay and it keeps boats moving. However, BW has said in the past that enforcing the 14-day rule – even though it is clearly part of the law – does not generate income and so is not a priority.
The local mooring strategy has generated massive amounts of reading material since the first pre-consultation document in April 2009. We are not quite sure how to calculate the number of trees that have been destroyed in BW’s latest attempt to harass liveaboard boaters and pressurise us into paying for moorings or simply giving up our homes, but a huge amount of paper has been used. We will publish some of these documents once we have worked out what is most relevant, and what we can publish without breaking confidentiality.
The local mooring strategy steering group includes representatives from BW, the IWA, NABO, the RBOA, the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, APCO (the hire boat companies’ trade body), the AWCC, several representatives from Wiltshire Council, BANES Council, and parish councils in the Bath and Limpley Stoke valley. The local authority representatives include Wiltshire’s Head of Equality, and the BANES Housing Officer who has responsibility for preventing homelessness and supporting travellers. The next meeting of the steering group is on 8 November at County Hall, Trowbridge.
Tags: 14 day rule, continuous cruising, Damian Kemp, hire boat companies, Local Mooring Strategy, mooring policy, Sally Ash, Section 17, traveller's rights, Waterways Act 1995, Wiltshire County Council