A boater has been asked to represent unaffiliated boaters (ie those not represented by NABO or RBOA) on the Local Mooring Strategy Inquiry Panel. In February BW agreed to include them on the panel, then later went back on its commitment, but following pressure from NABO and RBOA as well as from other boaters, BW has now included one unaffiliated boater. The first meeting is on 26 August at County Hall, Trowbridge, at 10am.
Only one unaffiliated boater has been asked to join the panel. This boater has made clear to BW that one person cannot easily represent the range of different views held by boaters who are not part of an organisation and there should be more than one representative.
Damian Kemp of BW claims that BW believe it is vital that unaffiliated boaters have a voice in any strategy development process but that there needs to be a balance between ensuring appropriate representation without making the number so great that it becomes unworkable.
However, BW initially asked NABO and the RBOA to represent the interests of all boaters between Bath and Devizes, regardless of affiliation. Both organisations felt that unaffiliated boaters should have their own representative and BW “eventually accepted their advice”.
The minutes of the British Waterways Mooring Strategy Meeting between BW, boaters and Wiltshire Council in Bradford on Avon on 22 February 2010 state that:
“BW has however agreed to accept an ‘unaffiliated boaters’ representative’ with the caveat that the steering group will not be used as a forum for debating BW’s interpretation of section 17.”
At that meeting Mr Kemp also said “there is no mechanism for unaffiliated boaters to be involved in the steering groups but we want them to be represented. We need to look at the proposal to exclude those who disagree with BW’s interpretation.”
At a meeting on 24 May in Devizes Damian said:
“It is essential that you (boaters who are passionate about the canals) are involved in it.”
“The first choices from a steering group should be an unaffiliated boater.”
“We need terms of reference at the outset, for example there needs to be agreement from one unaffiliated boater representative to any proposal from a commercial company.”
In response to a point that the steering group should just consist of boaters, he said “that is probably a good idea, but we have to preserve the amenity for the public so we can’t exclude the public sector.”
Will the Mooring Strategy be an unworkable waste of time and money? Watch this space.