It looks like at least one liveaboard boater will join the pilot Kennet and Avon Waterway Partnership Board. Andrew Harry, who lives on an electric boat, was invited to join the new Board following a selection process which two liveaboard boaters took part in.
The selection process recruited a number of new members from different interest groups. Applicants not selected are likely to be invited to join a new advisory group. The first meeting of the expanded board is on 9 March. The Partnership Board is a pilot for the governance of the waterways when BW moves to charity status. This means that if it is successful, the model will be followed in other waterway areas on BW’s network.
Andrew Harry has said that he is concerned that accountability, representation and scrutiny should be central to the governance of the new charity. BW currently has a direct accountability through the Minister to Parliament whereas the same level of accountability will not exist in a new waterways charity.
In his application to become a Board member, Andrew stressed that the canal is his home and that the community of liveaboard boaters are very proud of the canal and keen to work together to maintain or improve it. He added that he would like to make sure that the liveaboard boating community takes part and is included in this work.
Looking at the minutes of the November meeting of the Partnership Board, Wiltshire Councillor Fleur de Rhé Phillippe, who is the elected member with responsibility for the canal, reported that “moorings are a major issue as there is congestion on the canal in certain areas and, from the various Councils’ point of view this is causing political problems”. We are not clear about the nature of these political problems. However, we would like to remind local authorities that people who live on their boats, whether or not they have a permanent mooring, enjoy the same protection for their homes by virtue of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act as the settled community. There is no prohibition on living on a boat, and Section 17 (3) c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act entitles boat licence holders to use a boat on BW waterways without a having home mooring.
The Board currently consists of the local authorities along the line of the canal from Bristol to Reading; BW; the Kennet and Avon Trade Association, and the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust. Boaters and boating organisations have not been represented on it until now.
Here are the November minutes of the Kennet and Avon pilot Waterway Partnership Board.