CRT makes assurance that no enforcement action will be taken due to Seend stoppage

The K&A boaters action group has obtained an assurance from CRT that it will not take enforcement action against boaters who are trapped between Lock 11 in Bath and Seend (Semington for 70′ boats) because of the stoppage at Seend Wharf Bridge. CRT has placed certain conditions on this assurance. The stoppage runs until 11th March. This is the letter from CRT Head of Boating Mike Grimes:

“With regards to your request, whilst I am not able to give you the guarantee you have asked for I can confirm that the stoppage at Seend would be taken into account in relevant cases in so far as it may prevent onward travel in specific cases.

When deciding whether to take enforcement action or to renew a boat licence, the Trust will always look at the pattern of movement throughout the licence period. If a boater had been complying with the requirement to genuinely navigate from the beginning of their licence period until the date of the stoppage but was then prevented from navigating beyond Seend Wharf Bridge (or beyond Semington for boats over 70’) then clearly we would accept that the range of movement has been limited for the period of the stoppage. Therefore, where boats have had to reverse their direction of travel back west, we would make appropriate allowance for this before taking formal enforcement action or when deciding whether to renew a licence.

If, however, a boat had clearly failed to meet the movement requirements from the start of their licence period either side of the stoppage period, we may still decide to refuse a further licence or take enforcement action notwithstanding that the boat has been affected by the stoppage.

Furthermore, we would still expect some degree of continuous navigation to the west of Seend Wharf Bridge during the stoppage period, at least as far as Lock 11 (Horseshoe Bridge Lock), and we do not consider it reasonable (within the meaning of section 17(3)(c)(ii) of the 1995 Act) for boats to simply stay in one place for the duration of the stoppage period provided the K&A either side of the stoppage remains navigable.

This is the letter from the K&A boaters action group to Ian Rogers, CRT Head of Customer Service:

“Dear Mr Rogers

As you are aware due to the stoppage at Seend Wharf Bridge the Kennet and Avon Canal will be closed for a total of 19 weeks from 2nd November 2015 to 11th March 2016. This is more than four months. The start date of the stoppage has been brought forward by 28 days and the navigation will not now be re-opened for 16 days during the Christmas holidays as originally planned.

Section 17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995 entitles boaters without a home mooring to remain in one place for longer than 14 days if it is reasonable in the circumstances. When this clause was discussed by the House of Commons Select Committee that drafted the Act in 1993-94, navigation stoppage was the chief reason for the need for exemption from the travel requirements.

The Kennet and Avon Boaters’ Action Group is therefore contacting you to inform you that it will be reasonable in the circumstances if boaters without home moorings do not navigate east of Seend wharf or west of Lock 11 during the period 2nd November 2015 to 11th March 2016 due to the stoppage at Seend and expected strong stream or flood conditions on the River Avon. Depending on the length of their boats it will be reasonable for some not to travel beyond the nearest 70′ winding hole west of Seend.

We demand a guarantee that no enforcement action will be taken against any boats that are trapped by this stoppage regardless of whether their boat licences are for the full 12-months or whether their licences have been restricted to 6 months or 3 months, on the grounds that the stoppages are not within their control.”

You can download CRT’s letter about the stoppage here Stoppage Level 1.3 – Response

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