Following recent media coverage of CRT’s punitive policy towards boat dwellers without home moorings, especially the features about families on the K&A who are being threatened with the loss of their home because their children go to school, a boater has contacted us with these comments. Steve Haigh writes:
Life along the Kennet and Avon canal has of late adopted a gently surreal Kafkaesque tone.
The latest offering from the CART is a letter telling people they haven’t ‘moved through enough neighbourhoods’ in the last three months. it ends with a black edged obituary box stating “YOU ARE AT RISK OF LOSING YOUR BOAT’.
Sally Ash, the unpopular Head of Boating, finally retires at the end of this month after 38 years working for BW and CRT. She joined BW as a researcher in 1976 following a Masters degree at Reading University. Here we take a look back at some of her activities and the cost of her career both to boaters and to her employers, not only in financial terms but also in goodwill, time and effort.
London has an entirely different canal community to ours but there is considerable crossover in pressure on the infrastructure and attitudes of CRT and a small minority of the local population.
On the Canalworld discussion forum a London Boater recently posted this. I thought it so pertinent and a worthy message so here it is quoted in entirety. Thanks to Neil T
Causes more prejudice than any other word on [CanalWorld Forum].
There are too many boats for the moorings available here whether visitors or residential continuous cruisers. You have to moor double. You can’t come to town and expect a nice bit of towpath everywhere. You have to moor up outside strangers and expect to be moored against if you have towpath.
Yes there are a sizeable minority of continuous cruisers whose boats are untidy enough to allow prejudice in at the drop of a hat.
The Waterways officials simply do not have the staff or the balls to address the multiplicity of problems that are common in London whether on or off the water.
300 mooring spaces in the Olympic park would solve the problem BUT only if the charges acknowledged that residential / continuous cruisers simply do not have the money to pay £7000 a year for a mooring. Making them available at that kind of price ios not making them available.
Where is the intense lobbying by Waterways officials to solve all of these problems by harnessing the commitment to an Olympic legacy and securing mooring rights along the MILES of available space? Once in a lifetime possibility here. Where is the lobbying from on high?
You have to get used to compromise in London. I have just paid more that £2000 for six months winter mooring, been forced off the best moorings in the area which have been made visitor moorings and now watch non-payers staying where everybody would like to be, next to the facilities, and paid up winter moorers shifted up to a concrete wall, no access to water and disposal, long walk to get off towpath.
This w/e I wanted to cruise up to Islington to go to the Barbican with friends and their kids to a concert. Beautiful day, easy mooring at Islington. Great concert. Come back to the residential mooring area that I’ve paid for around 6pm and all full, space gone. So now me and my £2000 receipt are on a bit of towpath outside of any visitor or winter mooring designation at all. That’s compromise.
The easiest way to tidy up boats moored along the canal is to enact a law which says nothing on a boat’s roof whatsoever except the gangplank / boathook / punting pole on the usual bracket and as many solar panels as you like. NOTHING else on the roof OR on the towpath. Some people would find this very hard but it is possible and would shut the door to that prejudice that liveaboards in London are a bunch of scrofulous freeloading polluters. When you meet any individuals on boats in London they are almost universally great people.
But look along the pall of smoke through the humming generators and throbbing engines, the overflowing disposal point, the big black rats in the rubbish bins, endless cans of old engine oil etc. etc and you don’t see great people.
But you are not looking at scrofulous freeloading polluters either. Boaters have made large areas of London towpath safe for whole communities to walk /jog/ bicycle along and generally reclaim from being no-go areas. You are looking at a system under intense pressure, run by an organisation that has had a large part of its budget stolen as part of a political project and which is staffed by people so entrenched in their way of doing things that they cannot see far enough to think out of the box.
Mooring problems and prejudice could be addressed in London but it needs real imagination and some political clout across many borough boundaries. The salaries of top waterways staff should and could be buying that imagination.
It has long been a concern to us that BW and latterly, CRT, use the terms ‘continuous cruising’ and ‘continuous mooring’ to attempt to subvert the intentions of Section 17 of the 1995 Waterways Act. We have long campaigned for them to obey this law and to show, publicly, that they obey and respect the wishes of Parliament.