Consultation responses – a few suggestions

We have been compiling people’s views on the ignorations and here is the first draft of the responses we have gathered.

The numbers in brackets refer to the BW response questionnaire. N is National, L is local. It is very revealing when you consider which responses don’t fit that format. We are really worried that any response that doesn’t fit their highly skewed and pre-determined response format will be ignored. So wherever possible we are trying to fit responses into that format.

Please leave your suggestions, comments and corrections as a comment.

A. Legal Objections

1. BW have a set of rules backed up by law they find unenforceable. Law such as the 1995 Section 17 which is not disputed. It is not a solution to make another set of rules based on laws which are either obsolete or were not intended for these purposes. More effort should be put into the enforcement of powers they already have rather than attempting to enforce another set of powers that are considered controversial. (N3)

2. To make a set of rules that attempts to target and harass a section of boaters is a criminal offence.

3. The concept of enforcement of charges by licence refusal, which is subject to formal complaint by NABO, is unlawful and unenforceable. (N11)

4. The county court judgement about BW’s right to move boats for ‘causing an obstruction’ referred to in the consultation is not case law, as a county court cannot make case law. It is therefore not established that BW have the right to move a boat for overstaying on a mooring and they certainly have no right to charge for that. (N12)

B. Steering groups

1. Steering group make up is not representative of canal users, it is weighted to non-paying users (not stakeholders in BW terminology) such as nearby residents, anglers and local councils. (N7) (L3, L4)

2. The people most likely to want to join the steering groups are those with issues. Amongst these groups are likely to be people who feel that the canal should not have (so many) boats. Non-boaters who feel positively about the presence of the boats are unlikely to join. (N7) (L3, 4)

3. The bar on people on the steering group who disagree with the principles of the proposals prevents proper representation. (N7) (L3, 4)

C. Zoning proposals

1.  BW has not done a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed new mooring restrictions, ie how much money would BW gain from the £10-a-day charges and how much would this system cost to set up and to manage – staff time, costs of new signs, publicity, enforcement action etc. Without this analysis and, for comparison, a cost analysis of enforcing the rules they already have it is unclear whether these proposals will meet BW’s own criteria, that the new regime should be self-financing.  (N12)

2. Worth noting that the headline figure of £10 per day is only if you pay up on the spot. There is a proposed £15 charge, ie a £5 penalty if you are unwilling or unable to pay the agent.

2. The concept of £15 is no more enforceable than the current £25/£50 per day. The reason that the existing charges are not enforceable is that these are seen a punitive charges and not a true reflection of the cost of providing visitor services and facilities. The same will apply to the current proposals.

D. Rationing

1. It is not established that there is significant mooring congestion or that there are significant numbers of boaters that have difficulty finding desirable visitor mooring at most times of the year. The statements made in this respect by BW have not been subject to rigorous scrutiny. The evidence comes mainly from the hire boat industry, not an unbiased source. (N1)

1a. No independent study has been made of the impact of the increase in boats on mooring space at popular visitor attractions. (N1) (L14)

2. BW are actively promoting more use of the canal by hire boats which contributes to pressure on visitor moorings. (N4)

3, Rationing by price is not a fair way to allocate a publicly owned resource and by its nature discriminates against poorer people. (N5, N11)

E. Maintenance

1. Mooring space is restricted more by bad bankside maintenance, shallow margins and vegetation control than by boat congestion. (N12)

2. Cruising is severely restricted by bad maintenance of locks and lack of dredging. This places restrictions on boat movements leading to more mooring congestion. (N12)

F. Community

1. No investigation has been made by BW of the impact on the indigenous community of boats. Many of whom have been living this way for up to 25 years.

2. No assessment has been made of the human rights acts implications of changes in moorings policy, particularly with respect of access to health services, education and employment.

3. No credit is given in any of the context documents of the benefits to the canal environment and surrounding towns and villages that liveaboard boaters bring.

4. The proposals will reduce the total amount of available mooring space for resident boaters and thus make any problems of mooring scarcity worse.

G. Consultation

1. The consultation has been introduced backwards, ie the new mooring restrictions were proposed (september 09) then the national consultation (November 90) and then the local consultation. There is an expectation by that BW will implement these proposals whatever this consultation concludes. (N1) (L1, L14)

1a. Sally Ash has stated that BW does not have to consult to ‘manage the waterway’. This is a direct contradiction to the Waterways Ombudsman who states that BW must consult with interested parties before implementing changes in mooring. (L1)

2. The Waterways Ombudsman has ruled that people affected by proposals in a consultation should be consulted before the consultation is drafted . This has not happened. (L1)

3. BW have ‘consulted’ with interested parties from canalside residents, parish councils and the leisure industry. The information they have gathered has been used a true account of the situation without any attempt to verify assertions or assess whether there are contrary views. (L1)

4. The number of boaters targeted by these proposals is 3,500 (BW figures) are 10% of the licenced boats. The voice of this group is not given the weight that this proportion of BW’s customer base deserves. (L1)

5. The predetermined set of answers, from which it is understood statistical analysis will be made in support, or otherwise, of the proposals are hopelessly skewed to prevent proper objection on the grounds above. it is not clear that proper weighting will be given to objections outside of this questionnaire. (L1)

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2 Responses to “Consultation responses – a few suggestions”

  1. Kelti5 MonsterID Icon Kelti5 says:

    As we “continuously cruise” we come accross boaters who are trying to stand up to the bullying, sometimes in groups but often isolated and alone so its good to see you good people organising resistance.
    People are being turned against each other, its no longer a peaceful and tranquil life, this kind of persecution is making people ill.
    Good luck

  2. Tschawo MonsterID Icon Tschawo says:

    Spot on!