Save Our Waterways – from liveaboard scum!!

Documents obtained via Freedom of Information show that BW has recruited Will Chapman, the driving force behind Save Our Waterways, to set up local mooring strategies led by “well-informed boaters who are also parish councillors” as Sally Ash reported in December at the Kennet and Avon local mooring strategy meeting. We understand that Mr Chapman is a Parish Councillor in Alrewas.

In doing this BW has presented local mooring strategies as a key part of BW’s move to charity status, which assumes there will be considerable input from local (settled) communities into the governance of the charity on a local level. Sally Ash gave a presentation to Lichfield District Parish Forum on 24 January which blurred the boundaries between “local mooring strategy steering groups” and the overall local governance of the new charity. This will undoubtedly cause problems. On the Kennet and Avon, where a trial local structure is being piloted, there is a clear distinction between the Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group, which has a time-limited job to do, and the Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership Board, which is an ongoing local management board.

Hard work for no purpose

Will Chapman has worked hard to promote Sally’s revised vision of local mooring strategies led by boaters who are parish councillors, as you can see from his blog

However according to a comment on his blog, Sally Ash is up to her usual roughshod tactics – in a meeting with canal traders (who are also threatened by another of her proposals, see our article below) she admitted that there is no need for local mooring strategies as most parish councils are happy with the way things are and don’t think there is a problem. It appears from the emails between Will, Sally and Damian Kemp that some parish councils are more interested in encouraging boats to stop in their area and spend money in shops, pubs and rural post offices, than in chasing away liveaboard boaters without moorings.

Boats without moorings targeted

However, BW’s plan for these local mooring strategies clearly targets boats without moorings and favours boats with home moorings in each local area. The information BW has provided for Mr Chapman to recruit people to lead local mooring strategy committees includes tables of boat sightings listing the “Number of CC sightings in this km length 1 April – 30 Sept 2010” and others for hotspots and “critical km lengths” which are “those with more than double the average” number of sightings. When we asked BW what “CC” stood for in the table of boat sightings, we were told “CC stands for Continuous Cruiser.” Will Chapman has reported that he is “already targeting the hotspots shown on the map” provided for him by BW, presumably to set up local mooring strategies in those areas – so we can expect more prejudice-driven local mooring plans.

The net cast wide

Local mooring strategy groups have been started in Fazeley, Alrewas, Stone and the Caldon Canal. According to Sally Ash, Fazeley was chosen as the first area for a mooring strategy because “we know there are persistent and embarrassing continuous moorer challenges opposite our office from time to time”; she has been trying to recruit a Fazeley parish councillor to this group.

Will Chapman, Damian Kemp and Sally Ash between them have also contacted people in Tamworth Cruising Club, Fradley and Streethay, Fishwick (Whittington) and were also looking for contacts in Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands, Shuttington, Drayton Basset, and Wigginton & Hopwas. Outside Staffordshire Mr Chapman had recruited potential local mooring strategy group leaders on the BCN and in Lancaster, Manchester, London and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal who were willing to go ahead once an outline had been agreed.

Smart phone surveillance

The information we received also reveals that BW has plans to write software for smart phones to enable volunteers to log boat sightings straight to BW’s electronic boat sighting records. According to these documents it also looks like BW patrol the waterways in Staffordshire every 30 days on average. The national average appears to be a patrol every 20 days, whereas BW patrol the Kennet and Avon weekly. Draw your own conclusions!

Here is the presentation to Staffordshire Parish Councils Sally Ash presentation to Staffs Parish Councils

Here is the BW correspondence regarding Staffordshire Staffs Local Mooring Strategy emails

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12 Responses to “Save Our Waterways – from liveaboard scum!!”

  1. Dedicated server MonsterID Icon Dedicated server says:

    Got a photo of the goldfish but the terrapin was too fast for me. Reading this post back, it is dreadfully boring. We were pondering over our Easter trip being constrained by the imminent arrival of our daughter Terri from her work in Germany and her plans for the holiday and the restrictions placed on the waterways by the lack of water.

  2. Allan MonsterID Icon Allan says:

    With regard to Will Chapman’s comment that I and others agreed to apologise for this article –

    – there was no such agreement.

    Chapman was asked if there was any truth in the rumour that SOW was suffering from declining membership and had accepted money from BW in order to keep going. This was met with a flat denial.

    However, we were provided with evidence that this was not the case and that money had been offered (with no stings attached) and accepted.

    Confronted with the evidence, both Chapman and BW’s marketing director, Simon Salem, confirmed that an offer had been made but both denied that money had actually changed hands.

    This is what the article says.

    I would suggest it is up to readers of the article to decide the truth or otherwise of Chapman’s and BW’s denial.

  3. Lady Lee MonsterID Icon Lady Lee says:

    Hi there

    My brother lived on his boat for 5 years, last year he had 2 tyres slashed near Trowbridge, for various reasons he’s given up living on a boat.
    Using negative terms about alternative living styles does encourage nasty crimes, so many people that live on boats work in low paid essential jobs in areas where housing is crazily expensive.
    Please wake up BW stop the harassment and sort out more short stay moorings for the hire boats and let the generally peaceful and interesting liveaboarders get on with their lives…;o)

  4. paul biddy MonsterID Icon paul biddy says:

    Solicitors and barristers for legal aid and FREE advice for boaters, travellers, gypsies, housing law and fundamental human rights:

    Chris Johnson solicitor at Travellers Advice Team Community Law Partnerships Nationwide 0121 6858595

    Geraldine Winkler at Stone King Solicitors nationwide 01225 337599.

    Radical barrister chambers for legal aid (listed alphabetically by chambers):

    Martin Westgate QC at Doughty Street Chambers 020 74041313

    Val Easty, Stephen Cottle, Stephen Marsh, Jan Luba QC at Garden Court Chambers 020 79937600

    Michelle Harris at 1 Pump Court 020 73530711

  5. An Interesting post, largely factual but drawing some wrong conclusions; allow me to comment on some of them.

    1. The objective of Waterway Watch is to encourage communities to play a greater role in the well-being of their waterways. Above all, it is not a mouth piece for BW; the opinions expressed therein are mine.

    The editorial policy is to report on activities that impact on that objective. The interest in engaging communities and local authorities is not new; it has been a central campaign theme of Save Our Waterways since the protests of 2006/7. As such I the process of defining local mooring strategies as one of the many steps to be taken towards the formation of the NWC Local Boards that will work closely with each BW region.

    2. A feature of each Community Mooring Strategy is to involve all types of local user in the make-up of that particular stretch of the waterway. That includes anglers, cyclists, walkers, representatives of local businesses, local authorities etc. as well as the various factions of boaters however, that does not just include members of, as you put it, ‘settled’ communities. In that regard I made sure that a continuous cruise attended our first formal meeting with Sally Ash. The mix and emphasis will vary according to the nature of the location and, as Sally said, in many locations existing rules may not need to change. However, in the absence of a specific complaint, it seems a logical approach to look first at the more popular locations.

    I don’t understand what you mean when you say that the meeting with Lichfield DC Parish Forum ‘blurred he boundaries’ in a way that will ‘undoubtedly cause problems’. Perhaps you can enlarge upon this on so that our readers can debate your point.

    3. Personally, I am convinced that the future of our waterways is dependent on how well local authorities and NWC identify mutual strategic objectives. It is, for example, local planning that is holding back the development of more residential moorings and I am sure we have more chance of resolving such issues if NWC and local authorities work together as partners rather than at arm’s length.

    4. Through my involvement with Save Our Waterways and as a member of BWAF (British Waterways Advisory Forum) I have had the privilege of meeting many users all over the country who share my desire to secure a long term future of our waterways. Together, I am confident that we can achieve a thriving waterway that satisfies the vast majority of users.



  6. paul biddy MonsterID Icon paul biddy says:

    State a formal intention of non-compliance (and seek legal representation)

  7. I am in that area – it appears now that Fazeley locals are taking the law into their own hands – 8 liveaboard boaters have had all 4 tyres slashed, and dog excrement smeared over over boaters cars at different times – these incidents have been logged with the Police and BW although I understand no action is being taken. This just shows the level of prejudice in this area.

    The local rangers used to encourage boaters in this area in order to keep the local yobs at bay, now this has been disbanded it is only a matter of time before the area degrades….

    I am involved with the Roving Canal Traders, and am looking forward to a meeting with Will Chapman at Fradley tomorrow for a pint – I will hopefully find out what it is all about…

    • I look forward to that meeting too Will. Meanwhile, just let me make sure that other readers understand that the activities you describe in Fazeley are NOT part of the local mooring strategy!



      • Panda MonsterID Icon Panda says:

        How do you know? BW has used the terms “illegal liveaboards” and “unauthorised mooring” in attempting to justify local mooring strategies in its recent policy documents and in meetings with parish councils here. This is despite there being no prohibition on living on a boat and despite the fact that Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act authorises mooring on the towpath for 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances. The language and the approach used by BW is bound to inflame local prejudice.

        BW is attempting to drive away liveaboard boaters by making life so unpleasant and hostile that they move off their boats. If a landlord behaved like that towards a tenant, he would be committing a criminal offence.

  8. Allan MonsterID Icon Allan says:

    The following article may be of relevance –

    Allan (Narrowboatworld)

    • As you well know Allan, you and others associated with narrowboatworld agreed to apologise for that article and to set the fact straight. I await patiently for that apology but fortunately have not held my breath whilst doing so.

      I support the right of NBW of to express its opinions; it is just a shame that it appears not to allow the right of reply.