More facilities and skips planned for K&A while CRT seeks review of Biffa contract

More facilities for boaters are planned on the K&A. In a meeting between K&A Manager Mark Evans and representatives of liveaboard boaters in which refuse and sewage disposal facilities, water taps and maintenance were discussed, Mr Evans said he was looking at providing an extra water tap on the eastern end of the canal, possibly at Thatcham. He also stated that at present his aim is to install one new water tap or other facility each year. He informed boaters that CRT is seeking a review of the Biffa refuse collection contract at a national level, due to the numerous problems experienced by boaters of rubbish bins not being emptied and refuse piling up in an insanitary way. There will also be more skips provided occasionally so that boaters can dispose of large items of rubbish, these can also be timed to coincide with any towpath tidies.

Due to the significant water level problems on the K&A this year, Mr Evans and his team are to review the specification and functioning of the pumps at Bradford on Avon, Crofton and Wootton Rivers, as they appear not to be fit for purpose. Maintenance on the Seend flight, where water levels are also a problem, is scheduled for 2017-18.

Mr Evans also reported that some CRT staff had received abuse from certain liveaboard boaters. This is in a context where many liveaboards are feeling far more threatened, angry and fearful that they will lose their homes than they were 18 months ago. We don’t condone abuse of individuals, because it is the CRT’s enforcement policies that are the main cause of the persecution of liveaboard boaters.

Boaters protest about CRT enforcement policy during Richard Parry’s visit to Devizes in September 2016

If individual enforcement staff are responsible for specific instances of bullying and harassment, or have made wrong and unlawful decisions about a boater’s cruising pattern, we encourage boaters to make formal complaints to CRT. Maiking a complaint means the issues get examined and the behaviour of enforcement staff is scrutinised. We are aware that at least one enforcement officer has tried to discourage boaters from making formal complaints and from talking to certain liveaboard boaters’ representatives. This is because enforcement staff do not want their working methods to be examined. Contrary to the fears of many boaters, those who make formal complaints are not usually victimised for doing so – and if this does happen, this is of course grounds for further complaint.

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