A summary and report on the responses to the consultation on the Towpath Mooring Plan for the K&A west of Devizes was published by CRT yesterday. This showed that those who responded to the consultation strongly support the proposals. However, CRT’s Boating Team (headed by Sally Ash) is still trying to impose its own agenda by giving undue weight to responses from organisations such as the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) and the Valley Parishes Alliance (VPA).
This also happened in the analysis of the 2009 BW consultations on towpath mooring policies and local mooring strategies, when BW gave extra weight to responses by organisations on the grounds that they represented thousands of members; counted responses from canal-side residents twice on the basis that they fell into more then one category, and discounted many responses from liveaboard boaters, claiming that they were ‘identical’.
Neither the IWA or the VPA support the interests of liveaboard boaters without home moorings. CRT claims that it has identified a difference between responses from individuals, which were largely supportive (including boaters both with and without home moorings), and responses from organisations, which CRT claims “expressed reservations about some aspects of the proposal”. However, CRT has not taken up these reservations in a balanced way, but has focused on the organisations that support its agenda of deterring people from exercising the right enjoyed by all CRT boat licence holders to live on their boat without a home mooring.
Even though a majority of 68.8% of respondents agreed that “boaters would agree that over the period spanning a boat’s annual licence to achieve a range of movement that exceeds 20 km” and only 19% disagreed, CRT appears to be planning to pander to the minority who think that 20km is too short a distance for ‘legitimate’ continuous cruising. This is despite there being no minimum distance laid out in Section 17 3 c ii of the British Waterways Act 1995 and an implied minimum distance of only 10 miles (16km) in the Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring. Predictably this minority includes the IWA and the Valley Parishes Alliance of which Bathampton and Claverton Parish Councils are members. Considering that the Towpath Mooring Plan was wholeheartedly supported by CRT’s national Navigation Advisory Grooup, this is staggering.
The report states that the consultation findings suggest that changes to the proposals are needed and that many respondents believe that the measures proposed were unlikely to address all the stated aims. Given that the stated aims were unilaterally imposed on the Local Waterway Partnership by CRT and later added to, this is hardly surprising. The Local Waterway Partnership did not agree with all of these aims and that is why the Towpath Mooring Plan made the proposals that were being consulted on.
CRT states that it will now hold further discussions with the Local Waterway Partnership and Navigation Advisory Group to inform its final executive decision. It appears that CRT has no intention of respecting the consultation results or of avoiding measures that have a disproportionate adverse impact on liveaboard boaters without home moorings, even though it claimed that the consultation responses would be analysed and conclusions drawn in a way that avoids disproportionate adverse impacts. CRT also agreed to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment of the proposals, as it is required to do under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, but there is no evidence that it has carried this out.
The comments from some of the respondents reveal considerable prejudice towards liveaboard boaters and ignorance of our rights and the law on continuous cruising. This does no favours to the people in question, showing them up as petty and spiteful examples of the “I want what you’ve got” persuasion. This demonstrates the extent to which BW and CRT’s misinformation about the law has been believed, and will not promote good relationships between liveaboard boaters and the wider community.
A considerable majority of respondents also stressed the importance of adequate bank maintenance and dredging to create more mooring space so that boats can spread out and are not confined to the existing areas that are deep and well-maintained enough to moor. Self-declaration of boats’ cruising intentions and leaving space for anglers attracted considerable opposition from respondents. The report implies that CRT is considering these issues.
Some 438 people responded to the consultation of whom 407 were boat owners; 179 said that their boat is their primary residence and 166 do not have a home mooring; 19 people and organisations responded with separate submissions but did not complete the questionnaire.
You can download the consultation report and summary of responses here
Tags: Bathampton Parish Council, Claverton Parish Council, continuous cruising, liveaboards, Local Waterway Partnership, mooring, Moorings Consultation, Sally Ash, Section 17, Valley Parishes Alliance, Waterways Act 1995