We have just heard that Sally Ash, CRT’s Head of Boating, dubbed the ‘Wicked Witch of Watford’ and ‘Cruella De Vil’ by boaters for her efforts over many years to destroy the lives of liveaboard continuous cruisers, is to retire at the end of June this year. Ms Ash emailed members of various CRT advisory groups and senior staff today to inform them of her intended retirement.
Sally Ash’s latest Towpath Mooring Control report, published yesterday, indicated that her retirement was on the cards as its tone and content suggested that all of her aims to restrict and erode the right to live on a boat without a home mooring had been achieved. Ms Ash’s report failed to mention that the Kennet and Avon Local Waterway Partnership made very significant changes to Ms Ash’s original Towpath Mooring Plan for the western K&A and that her original plan will not be put into practice.
According to sources inside CRT, Sally Ash, who is 63, was being watched very carefully by the new Chief Executive Richard Parry. Perhaps she has been told to go, as she has declared in the past that she had no plans to retire but preferred to go on working. We believe that the failure of Roving Mooring Permits, a project that Ms Ash must have wasted huge amounts of BW and CRT money on since 2003, was the final disaster that led to her decision to go.
Ms Ash is also a Director of hire boat holiday booking company Drifters Leisure Limited. We believe she instigated the attempt to bring an action for libel against the editor of this web site following publication of articles about Drifters and other issues. She has been criticised by many private boaters for having too close a relationship with the hire boat companies and being too friendly with people like Edward Helps, Managing Director of ABC Leisure Group, and Tim Parker, Chair of APCO, the hire boat trade body. Certainly many of the policies she devised to restrict boats without home moorings bore considerable similarity to the demands of hire companies recorded in the minutes of meetings between BW and the boating trade in the South East.
Here is a quote from a consultation response to one of Sally Ash’s proposals from 2008:
“Then we have Sally Ash (again). What does she have to do before she is removed from any office where she can interfere in the lives of responsible and intelligent human beings? She has caused hundreds of decent people to leave the canals and wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds engendering pointless enforcement activity, i.e. harassment and intimidation, that has caused great distress and annoyance to hundreds more people. Hers is the typical behaviour of the over-promoted office clerk, the blinkered, petty minded bureaucrat; she has neither the wit nor the imagination to comprehend fully the implications of her actions on the people beyond her myopic perception. She is the Adolf Eichmann of the waterways and your proposals amount to your ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Problem’ of those you refer to in your edicts as ‘itinerant boaters’.”
And a quote from the horse’s mouth: Sally Ash was reported by the Guardian as saying that “Some people will have to suffer” when she was interviewed in March 2011 about the draconian plans to restrict boaters without home moorings on the Lea Navigation in London. This was another of her schemes that was not implemented because its crass punitive nature inspired enormous opposition.
You can read the latest Towpath Mooring Control report here Towpath Mooring Control 3rd report