The Waterways Ombudsman has told Sally Ash that her language is “not helpful” after two boaters complained about the CRT Council Briefing on Non-Compliant Continuous Cruising. The briefing, written by Head of Boating Ms Ash, alleged that ‘non-compliant continuous cruisers’ were preventing leisure boaters from using visitor moorings.
In his response to the complaint, Ombudsman Andrew Walker said “I do not disagree with your point that overstaying on visitor moorings has nothing to do with whether boaters without home moorings are compliant with the law… I have pointed out to Sally Ash that such language is not helpful”. The complaint was not upheld, but Mr Walker added that although he had “not seen any evidence that the Trust is trying to stop people forming communities” he added “I cannot see how it could stop them if they are complying with the law”.
The complaint concerned many issues raised in the Council Briefing of 27 September 2012, including CRT’s statement that “the continued ad hoc emergence of unofficial residential communities along lengths of towpath is something that we wish to avoid”. The complaint pointed out that CRT has no power to prevent boaters without home moorings forming communities, and the only issue that it can legitimately concern itself with is whether the boaters are complying with the law.
The briefing also stated that “The problem has grown up over 15 years so that we now have substantial clusters of long term residents along some towpaths comprising people whose fundamental life style would be threatened by any change in our policies to tighten up implementation of the statute. The matter is now the cause of tension between the growing band of ‘non-compliant continuous cruisers’ and leisure boaters who report being deprived of the opportunity to tie up at popular short term moorings during their cruises.” It was this statement that prompted the Ombudsman to tell Sally Ash to mind her language.
The Briefing of 27 September 2012 is a policy document that announces CRT’s intention to proceed with a number of measures against boat dwellers without home moorings. The main issue in the complaint was that the proposed measures are both unjust and unlawful and consequently amount to maladministration resulting in actual injustice to not only an individual but to an entire group of people.