London boaters reject consultation

One of the areas identified by British Waterways as a ‘problem area’ that needs action is the River Lee in London and the connected London waterways. The River Lee is another example of a vibrant boating community that feels under threat from Sally Ash’s proposals to restrict mooring rights.

This is the letter of complaint sent by a member of that community to Robin Evans;

Dear Mr Evans

I do not have confidence in the moorings “consultation” recently carried out by BW. I have learnt that this “consultation” was conducted on the internet, and to a lesser extent by post. In many instances bargees, in the London area, and quite likely nationally, do not have access to the internet, and many do not have a regular postal addresses either. The extent of the “consultation’s” reach must therefore have been limited. This notion is supported by the fact that most members of our community did not hear of it in time to make a response. This includes those bargees who do have internet access.

I have carried out a survey of the London bargee community and to my knowledge no one in our community had an input into your “consultation”. We also have reports that the body of the “consultation” was unclear and confusing. Some bargees had the following comments to make regarding your “consultation” …

“I was so angry that we had no consultations whatsoever I had nothing in the post or on my boat”

“No – didn’t hear about it.”

“Our friend told us about it the last night we had a chance to respond to it. I intended to try to respond but the questions were so ambiguous it really confused me”.

“No I never heard about it.”

For the reasons outlined above I argue that British Waterway’s moorings “consultation” failed to consult in an effective way with the bargee community in London. I therefore do not consider your “moorings consultation” to have been inclusive. As such I hold the view that it could not provide your organisation with sufficiently balanced or complete information for decision making on any new moorings policy.

Members of our community have children in local schools, and family, friends and jobs on or near the London waterways. New patterns of movement recommended, and/or enforced, in a new moorings policy could adversely effect the lives of the London Bargee Community. I therefore reserve the right of non-compliance with any new regulations you may base on this “consultation”.

This letter is for your information. For the reasons outlined above it is also a formal complaint.

I look forward to your reply.

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One Response to “London boaters reject consultation”

  1. admin MonsterID Icon admin says:

    This was received from BW;

    Thank you for your email dated 2nd March 2010 expressing your dissatisfaction with the process used for the recent mooring consultation s. I have considered your views carefully and I am sorry that you have felt the need to complain.

    As you may be aware British Waterways is committed to ensuring that it adheres to the Government Code of Practice on Consultation published in July 2008. For your reference I attach a link to this guidance

    It has been our practice for some years now to exploit the cost advantages of the internet to communicate with our customers. However, this does not mean that we ignore others: we announce all our consultation s in the waterways press and paper copies are freely available simply by telephoning our customer service team. We confer regularly with national boating organisations, all of whom received personal emails announcing the publication of the moorings consultation document at the end of October. This mailshot included Mr Nick Brown whom we understand to be chair of the Bargee Travellers Association.

    You will note that within the government guidelines recognition is made to “keeping the burden of consultation to a minimum”. Writing to every individual licence holder is simply not possible given the resources available to us and the number of consultation s we run each year.

    We have received over 300 responses to the moorings consultation and therefore I have concluded that it has been effective in reaching a wide range of stakeholders and in reaching those most affected by the proposals. This said I am eager to ensure that any views that you may wish to express are taken into account and do not wish for you to feel excluded in any way. Due to the large number of responses received we anticipate that the analysis exercise will be ongoing for a number of weeks. Therefore I have agreed with the manager leading the analysis exercise that providing you are able to forward your views before 31st March they will be taken into account and considered alongside the other responses received.

    Once again I am sorry that you have felt the need to complain on this occasion, but hope that you now take the opportunity to submit your views. However, should you remain dissatisfied with British Waterways over this matter, you can ask for your complaint to be considered at the second level of our Complaints Procedure. Please let me know and I will arrange for the matter to be considered by a Director in accordance with our complaints procedure.

    Kind regards,

    Caroline Killeavy
    Head of Customer Relations