The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has recommended “that the Canal and River Trust demonstrates that it has taken into consideration the specific needs of all stakeholders, including itinerant boat dwellers, in the development of all future byelaws”. The Committee (until recently called the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee) made this recommendation following its scrutiny of the BW Transfer Order, which included cross-examination in April of BW Chief Executive Robin Evans, BW Legal Director Nigel Johnson, Waterways Minister Richard Benyon MP and DEFRA Deputy Director of Inland Waterways John Kittmer.
BW was working on drafting a new set of byelaws between about 2001 and 2010. These include a number of provisions that would be detrimental to boat dwellers; these are powers that Parliament did not consider it appropriate for BW to have in 1995. Byelaw offences are criminal offences that are punishable with fines; BW has proposed fines at Level 2 (£500) or Level 3 (£1000).
A number of liveaboard boaters submitted evidence to the Committee regarding unlawful enforcement, harassment and threats of homelessness by BW that they and other boaters had experienced, and the lack of legal protection for their homes. The National Bargee Travellers Association also sent evidence to the Committee. You can read the Committee’s report in full here:
The draft beylaws, obtained by FOI, are here Discussion Draft Revised Byelaws Feb 2010