A Freedom of Information request has revealed that a meeting took place between CRT and BaNES on 2oth March this year in connection with the Council’s assessment of the inclusion of boat dwellers in its Gypsy, Traveller and Housing Strategy. Reportedly some of the BaNES representatives present were not impressed with CRT.
Looking at the minutes of this meeting it is easy to see why.
First of all, Sally Ash told BaNES that CRT is “concerned that the balance of users is not right in Bath and that leisure users are being forced out” and that the Local Mooring Strategy aims to address this. It is hard to see why leisure users are being forced out of Bath when the number of hire boats between Bath and Devizes has grown from 36 in 2003 to 93 in 2013. None of these hire boats has been forced out of Bath, in fact most of them visit Bath at least once a week, frequently crewed by drunken stag parties. CRT also stated that the overcrowding on the canal impacts on tourism and therefore the local economy. We do wonder how the local economy is suffering as a result of overcrowding on the canal when 93 hire boats and many more private boaters on holiday cruise to Bath each week in the holiday season, and liveaboards spend money in local shops, Post Offices and other businesses all year round.
CRT also stated that despite there being no duty to have consideration of equalities, CRT considers itself to be covered by the Equalities Act. This is nonsense. Every organisation that exercises statutory powers, as CRT does, is required to comply with the Equality Act; in addition many provisions of the Equality Act apply to all organisations, not just to public bodies and those exercising statutory powers.
At the meeting, a councillor asked if CRT welcomed residential boaters.According to the minutes, Sally Ash stated they did, but “she also advised that recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of people wishing to live on the canals and waterways. CRT does not wish to see ‘ribbon development’ and some new marinas have been built in the Midlands, but not enough to accommodate demand. Sally also explained that any boat that isn’t navigating in line with CRT guidance should either be moored in a marina or taken off the water completely.” and that “CRT is struggling to manage demand on refuse and other services attached to their moorings”.
CRT also stated that it is “hoping to differentiate long-standing boat-dwellers from new arrivals, issuing Flexible Mooring Permits to allow longer stays. Costing roughly £1,000 on top of the license (typically £750 pa)”. However, the K&A Local Waterway Partnership has rejected this proposal, supported by the CRT Navigation Advisory Group (NAG) in the finalised Local Mooring Strategy. NAG endorsed this on 7 June 2013 and recommended that it should go out to consultation.
The minutes of the meeting are completely silent on the issue of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that BaNES has been seeking from CRT/BW for at least a year, implying that it still has not been possible to agree the content of the MOU. Councillor Tim Ball of BaNES, the Cabinet member responsible for housing, had informed this web site last year that BaNES sought an MOU that no draconian solutions would be used by BW/CRT against liveaboard boaters. You can download the minutes of the meeting here Banes-CRT mtg200313FOI