Enforcement bully backs down after complaint from injured boater

An enforcement officer has been forced to reconsider ordering an injured boater to move within 48 hours, and has agreed that the boater can stay on a visitor mooring for the time that a doctor has recommended for the injury to heal.

The enforcer, Ms A, had told the boater not to bother getting a doctor’s letter as evidence of the reasonableness of a longer stay, and had pressurised her to move despite being in considerable pain. The boater phoned Ms A to inform her of the doctor’s letter and recommendation to rest for three weeks for the injury to heal,  which meant remaining moored where it was not necessary to walk across a plank. The boater also explained that the engine was being repaired to fix a problem that would seriously damage the boat if the engine was started before the repair was complete (it was fixed a few days later). Ms A told the boater that the boat must be moved.

The boater said “What followed was shouting from Ms A blaming me for the fact my boat wasn’t running, she said it was my fault and I should have known it was going to break down and got if fixed before it broke. She was shouting so much that I had to hold the phone away from my ear. She also said that my past record was bad and that affected how I was being treated now. She mentioned that I had been ill last year and that meant I stayed in one place longer than two weeks. She also threatened me with fines. A friend who was with me saw my distress and spoke to Ms A simply to say I’d had a bad accident. Ms A was rude to her and asked to speak to me.”

The boater stated in the written complaint “I shall ask my doctor whether threatening to fine me for not moving is legal in the circumstances” and “Ms A has asked me to phone her in five days’ time to inform her of my situation. I shall not be ringing and will let her know by text. In future Ms A will have to contact me by letter. Please delete my number from your database. I will not be spoken to like a naughty child and threatened and blamed for things I have no control over”.

The boater sent the complaint to the CRT Head of Enforcement and within three days was given written permission to stay for the time recommended by the doctor. We considered whether to name and shame the enforcement officer, but decided against it this time, as it would be unfair to single out and accuse one enforcer of bullying when we regularly receive reports of similar behaviour by CRT staff here on the K&A and throughout the CRT waterways.

Meanwhile, a boater in the Midlands has had an apology from CRT after he was erroneously served with a Patrol Notice for overstaying on a waterway which he had not cruised on at all that year! The same boater was also forced to complain after being told by CRT that he would be treated as a continuous cruiser even though he had paid for a mooring in a private marina for the majority of each year and declared this as his home mooring. In other words, “a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably be kept and may lawfully be left” was “available for the vessel, whether on an inland waterway or elsewhere” (Section 17 3 c i, 1995 British Waterways Act). After the boater provided a very detailed explanation of his mooring agreement and cruising pattern, CRT backed down and told him that he was not being treated as a continuous cruiser, but has not actually apologised for this second error.

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