Author Archive

The Mead Lane Channel

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Maybe it’s time for us to start a Mead Lane channel, no sooner has a major victory been won as BANES are advised by the Judge that they would likely lose a judicial review than the residents take the law into their own hands again.

Read more…

Register to vote – last day

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote. Here’s how

Make a difference.

Six days left to make a difference

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

A lot can happen in a week, hopefully one of those is that you will register to have your say. Here boater Sally tells you how and why;

For anyone that’s missed it, there’s a General Election coming up on 8th June.
Why bother? You may think your vote won’t make any difference, believe me this time it will.

Why should you vote?

Apart from this being the most important election of our generation, why aren’t you voting? You may want to consider how lucky you are to have the opportunity.

  • It took until 1928 for women to be given the right to vote in the UK after a long and bitter Suffragette battle.
  • In the US it took until 1965 to remove racial discrimination from voting rights allowing all US citizens the right to vote.
  • In Saudi Arabia women still do NOT have the right to vote.

If you think your vote won’t make a difference check out these statistics.

Just look around at what’s happening in this country. The Tories are bleeding public services dry. This Conservative government has borrowed more in the last 7 years than ALL Labour governments combined yet we’re still under the yoke of austerity. Under a Conservative led government homelessness has doubled. Over 2000 deaths have been linked to welfare sanctions. We’ve seen cuts to the NHS, welfare, education, housing, the police, the military, the justice system, everywhere you look. The rise of food banks and children in poverty are a direct result of the Tory Austerity programme.

This election there is an alternative to all of this. It’s time for everyone to have their chance to say ‘no more’. Whoever you chose to vote for make sure you make June the end of May.

But I’m a continuous cruiser, can I still vote?

Yes. It’s pretty easy. We once voted as ‘the boat in the harbour’ in Sheffield! Go to … print the form, fill it out and send it to your local electoral services office. Your ‘local connection’ address can be the election office if you’ve no other address.

Can’t print it? Pop in to the electoral services office and ask for a local connection form. Your local library can help too.

Need a national insurance number – phone here 0300 200 3500

If you need any support to do this let us know and we’ll find someone to help.

You have only got until Monday 22nd May to get the form in. That’s six days!

Do not delay, get free beer NOW!

If you’re happy with the status quo do nothing. If not, your country and your community need your help. Oh and you can get free beer…

Local Electoral Services offices

Bristol – B Bond, Smeaton Road, Bristol BS1 6XN

Keynsham & Bath – Guildhall, High Street, Bath BA1 5AW

BOA, Trowbridge, Melksham, Devizes and the Long Pound – County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge BA14 8JN

Karting tyres going free (or is it wheeee….?)

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

We’ve just had an email from Jack Wood-Pearce in Malmesbury offering a load of go-kart tyres for free.

He’s got about 40 and they’re in Malmesbury, he wants to offload them all at once he says he’ll drop them off if someone can take delivery and give them out?

If you’re interested, contact Jack on 01666 825 600

Cheap 10A and 20A MPPT controllers

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Now that Spring is poking her head out of the clouds, it’s absolutely the best time to invest in a bit of solar. And all solar installations need a controller which, if you want MPPT technology – and you may not know it but yes, you do, can be the most expensive part of the install.

There are two types of solar controller PWM, the standard, cheap offering, around £15 from Maplins in Bath, and MPPT, of which it is usually recommended to go for a Tracer, £65 from Bimble Solar. MPPT can offer a substantial increase in power harvested by matching the panels and batteries to the best voltage for maximum power (MPPT = Maximum Power Point Tracking )*. By contrast PWM simply switches off part of the time to avoid over-voltage. Going a bit techie, this means that the greater the difference between the VOC of the panel and the voltage of your battery (12V–14.8V) the more power is wasted whereas with MPPT you can string panels in series up to the maximum input voltage of the controller without losing power. The cheapest solar panels are those used for domestic arrays and are generally around 36V which either won’t work or waste most of their power with a PWM controller.

You have to be careful when looking for an MPPT controller, there are a lot of cheap solar controllers on eBay claiming to be MPPT which are, in fact PWM, but this model checks out as a genuine MPPT at around £20 to £25:

Charge voltage is fixed at 14.7V which may be a little high for some, though not high enough to properly charge or equalise traction batts, but will give them more than a tickle. Max solar input is 50V.

A couple of links for these on Ebay:

Not as good as the latest Tracers and may be not as reliable, but possibly a good budget option for a small setup.

From Bimble Solar’s website

PWM vs MPPT charge controller test

We often get asked about the actual difference you get between an MPPT and a PWM controller so we setup a side by side test using our Yingli part used panels onto 2 separate 12V batteries, 1 with a PWM controller and one with our Tracer MPPT. Panels were set-up side by side angled south.

With early March sun the MPPT was giving 3.7A into the batteries while the PWM gave 2.5A which was 32% lower than the MPPT.

In cloudy conditions the MPPT was giving 1A when the PWM was giving 0.8A (20% lower with PWM)

Both charged the batteries well, but 20%-32% more power was gained by using the MPPT.


(with thanks to Smiley Pete on CWDF for spotting it)

West Berkshire Food Bank open to boaters.

Monday, January 9th, 2017

church_collectionOne in five of the UK population live below the poverty line and, of course, this includes boaters. If you are experiencing hard times and could do with some help getting through it, help may be available.

West Berks Food Bank recently helped a boater in food crisis in Hungerford. It made them aware that there might be a greater need amongst boaters on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

In order to get help, ring the Crisis Help Line 01635 760560, open from 08.30 to 18.30. After answering a few questions about your situation you will then be given the information to access the nearest Foodbank and receive help.

They have 4 distribution centres on the Eastern end of the Kennet and Avon, opening hours are;
Thatcham Baptist Church – Monday 1-3pm, Thursday 1-3pm
Newbury Salvation Army Citadel – Tuesday 1-3pm, Friday 1-3pm
Hungerford Methodist Church – Wednesday 1-3pm
Lambourn RC Church – Monday 1.30 – 3.30pm

Park_HouseMore information can be found on the West Berks Food Bank website:

Of course, if you don’t need their service you may be able to help in some way, further details of how you can get involved are here;

Boater Eviction in Bath

Monday, September 26th, 2016

On 14th September CRT seized a boat without a home mooring that was a vulnerable woman’s home while she was asleep inside it. The woman, who suffers from epilepsy, was later rushed to hospital in an ambulance as the stress of the eviction had caused her condition to become critical.

Our roving reporter, R Mutt has sent us this report of a disturbing incident that shows how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks in society if we don’t, as a community, pay careful attention to the needs of everyone.

Read more…

Section 43 of the 1962 Transport Act; Use and abuse

Monday, August 1st, 2016

The study that Nigel Moore has put in to the various Waterways Acts, their application and, most importantly, misuse by CRT, is awe-inspiring and unrivalled. It would not be exaggeration to say that he is the foremost current authority on waterways law.

One of the pieces of law that CRT rely on for much of their hyperbole and abuse is Section 43 of the 1962 Transport Act that they claim entitles them both to charge as they see fit and levy terms and conditions over all their activities.

Nigel, in this article published on Canalworld forum;  makes a superb analysis of this section, what it applies to and what it most certainly doesn’t.

Nigel writes:

Context is all, and is the one thing that most people fail to see when dealing with this bit of legislation in particular. It is surprising, because the very wording of the oft-quoted section demands that it be read subject to the preceding sub-sections and to preceding enabling Acts.

The result of reading it in isolation is to form a view that this Act confers, for the first time, rights to charge for use by boats of the canals, and to impose conditions on such use. It does no such thing.

From the very beginning, over two centuries ago now, canal companies were granted the right to charge for use by boats of their waterways, and to make conditions for such use. Nothing changed in those respects from the enabling Acts until now. What HAS changed, is the degree of limitations applicable to the setting of charges and conditions.

None of these could ever have applied to the grant of permission for boats to enter the waterways; the canals were all of them subject to the public right of navigation. It is not that boats were not subject to conditions attached to the exercise of their right – they were, as provided for in primary and secondary legislation. All boats exercising the public right to enter and use the canals, for example, were required by primary legislation to be registered. All such boats were also required to conform to the conditions of use as set out in the various byelaws. Penalties were set out for breach of these. That still applies, having nothing to do with boat licences, nor with PBC’s.

Originally, the canal companies were set fixed levels of charges for the uses they were entitled to charge for [and unless those uses were specified, they were not entitled to charge at all]. Additionally, conditions attached to the services and facilities for which they were entitled to charge were often legislated also. An example of the latter is that while the GJCC were entitled to create wharves and commensurate facilities on any offside land they had purchased for the purpose – just as private riparian landowners were – they were not entitled [by contrast with the private owners], to say who could or could not avail themselves of those facilities; they had to be open to all.

The awkwardness of the system meant that new legislation had to be passed every time it was necessary to upgrade the charge levels in line with current costs.

These rigid price structures and conditions – differing with every one of the multitudinous companies – were modified in a series of subsequent national legislation. Not what could be charged for and conditioned, which remained then as now, subject to express and implied prohibitions, but how and at what level.

The Transport Act 1947 set out a reform applicable to all the nationalised companies within the British Transport Commission, under section 76 headed “Charges Schemes”. This provided that: –

“The Commission shall from time to time prepare, and submit to the Transport Tribunal for confirmation, drafts of schemes (hereafter in this Act referred to as “charges schemes”) for determining, as respects the services and facilities provided by the Commission to which the schemes respectively relate –

a ) the charges which are to be made by the Commission and
b ) where it is necessary or expedient to do so, the other terms and conditions which are to be applicable to the provision of those services and facilities, including, in particular, terms and conditions as to the liability of the Commission for loss or damage.”

So the disparate levels of charges under the prior enabling Acts was to be brought under a unified scheme, appropriate to the unified companies under the aegis of the BTC. These charges and related T&C’s were to be submitted to an independent Tribunal for approval.

In 1958 the BTC’s Charges Scheme was approved by the Tribunal, coming into force on the 1 June 1958. It laid down that –

“4. The Commission may in the case of any inland waterway of the Commission make such charges as may be reasonable

(1) for the use thereof by any ship or boat;
(2) for the provision by them of towage thereon;
(3) for the provision of port facilities at or in connection with any dock thereon; and
(4) for the use of any services and facilities connected with such port facilities . . .”

“5. Any questions as to the reasonableness of any charge made by the Commission under paragraph 4 of this Scheme shall be determined on the application either of the Commission or of the person liable to the charge by the Transport Tribunal to the exclusion of any other Court.”

“6. The Commission may make the use of any of the services and facilities to which this Scheme relates subject to such reasonable terms and conditions (not being provisions as to the amount of any charges) as the Commission may from time to time determine.”

“7. Any questions as to the reasonableness of any term or condition imposed or sought to be imposed by the Commission under paragraph 6 of this Scheme shall be determined by the Transport Tribunal.” [my emphasis]

The difference between the 1958 Scheme and everything which applied previously, was that the rigid and disparate charges levels were abolished in favour of a uniform level of charge across all relevant waterways, and the T&C’s attached to the service/facility charged for, were likewise made uniform. For both charge levels and T&C’s, the only restriction was that these were to be “reasonable”; the test for reasonableness determinable by the Transport Tribunal in case of challenge.

What interested parties need to ask then, is wherein lies the difference between the Charges Scheme 1958 and the Transport Act 1962?

The 1962 Act [which abolished all Charges Schemes under the 1947 Act] clarifies that the charging regime applies only to the uses chargeable under the enabling Acts, while removing the burden of reasonableness on the charges and on the related terms and conditions for the chargeable services and facilities.

So s.43 introduces nothing new in terms of what can be charged for and conditioned; it simply removes all restrictions and oversight as previously obtained, such that BW could set charges, and set T&C’s for the chargeable services and facilities “as they see fit”.

The latter four words form the ONLY point of difference from all that went before.

The 1962 Act, far from giving CaRT open licence to charge for whatever they liked and to impose conditions for whatever they liked, on a unilateral basis, is in fact the one bit of legislation that specifically confirms the legislative principle that these charges and conditions cannot be made with respect to anything that had not previously been authorised as chargeable.

The licensing of boats on the canals, and the registration of boats on the rivers, was never encompassed within pre-1962 legislation, hence nothing in s.43 could possibly apply to those. When those became law under primary legislation, the conditions for issue were laid out – and to start with, nothing more was required for either, other than a paid for application. The PBC’s to begin with were subject to rigid price structures, but when boat licences became compulsory those prices were abolished and the PBC simply pegged to 60% of the Licence [which BW could charge for as they wished].

The BW Act 1983 added an extension to byelaw making powers, so that issue of the boat Licence could be made subject to compliance with prescribed standards of construction and equipment of vessels, but that was never implemented, and the section was repealed under s.36 and Schedule 3 of the 1995 Act – which substituted the BSSC condition instead. The 1995 Act added the only other two applicable conditions, to which issue of relevant consents [to include the PBC’s as well] were to be subject.


*PBC is a Pleasure Boat Certificate, which CRT disingenuously refer to as a Rivers Only Licence. It is, legally speaking, not a licence as none is needed on those rives for which the Public Right of Navigation still exists.

New magazine launched

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Michelle Smith, a continuous liveaboard on the the Kennet and Avon, has launched The Liveaboards Cut, a new magazine featuring and celebrating life on the Western Kennet and Avon. The first issue, out now, focusses on many of the traders on the cut as well as a feature on The Travelling Community Support Service and some of the lighter side of life aboard with poetry, humour and stories.

Well worth a read. And if you wish to contribute, Michelle is looking for contributions for the next issue.

The Liveaboards Cut is a quarterly publication. You can download the first issue as a PDF here. 



Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

This week we reported that Matthew Symonds was heard to say, twice, that liveaboard boaters were “gits”.

Since we reported this, someone on Twitter asked Mr Symonds if the comments he had made were true. He categorically denied that he would ever say such a thing.

Read more…