Mooring Strategy meeting runs smoother without its Chair

The fifth meeting of the Local Mooring Strategy steering group took place on 28 January. It ran much more smoothly and constructively than the others due to the absence of the BW Chair, Sally Ash. The bullying atmosphere experienced by boaters’ representatives was conspicuous by its absence as BW’s Damian Kemp ran the meeting with a minimum of fuss. Despite being the Project Officer for the Local Mooring Strategy, Mr Kemp has shown willingness to take boaters’ views and rights on board. Unfortunatley he has little power within BW.

The down side of this meeting was that the Valley Parishes Alliance reported that they had made a submission to the BANES Core Strategy consultation (see our article below) and have met with the BANES Heads of Planning, Tourism and Environment to discuss the canal. As a result, BANES has agreed a mechanism for formally endorsing the Local Mooring Strategy Vision Statement, which due to the bullying already mentioned, is largely based on what the VPA want. This includes aims such as “long lines of static boats over long periods [will] disappear” and promotes the idea of “breathing spaces”, ie no mooring zones for reasons other than navigational safety. Both of these proposals show a disregard and lack of understanding of the rights and homes of boaters under the 1995 British Waterways Act and Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

The figures don’t stack up

However, Damian Kemp informed us that BW is not proposing to impose overstaying charges on 14-day moorings, and also confirmed that the Local Mooring Strategy has to be self-financing – something that has never been made clear before. The NABO rep pointed out that BW would need at least 100 agreed, non-confrontational overstays each week on Visitor Moorings, at £10 per day, to make it self-financing.

Damian also confirmed that BW was prepared to implement the RBOA rep’s proposal to bring back the lengthsman role, which has broad support in the Steering Group, but only subject to funding which he said would be “tricky”. This year, DEFRA has made a £9 Million cut in BW’s grant. See Allan Richards’ article in Narrowboatworld

for a full run-down of how BW is making up to 400 maintenance and other workers redundant while its fat-cat Directors will get over £3.5 Million between them in pay and bonuses.

Watch out for boaters’ meeting in April

Wiltshire Council’s Canal Officer reported that the local Area Boards and Parish Councils were chasing him for the Mooring Strategy proposals so they could have their say. Damian reported that the proposals should be ready by April to be considered by the interest groups represented on the Steering Group. So watch out for a boaters’ meeting in April or May because we will need to take your views back to BW. In particular, whatever the proposals are, BW needs to know whether you are prepared to abide by them or not, because if not, they won’t be enforceable.

The meeting noted that BW does not have the power to limit the number of private boat numbers, but the Kennet and Avon canal Manager can limit hire boat numbers on the canal; also, a BW ecologist is looking at how to measure the capacity limit of the canal.

About half the meeting took place in small groups that discussed the remit of BW’s proposed working groups for the Mooring Strategy on zoning, enforcement and towpath environment and services. BW also proposed the following timescale aiming to have the Mooring Strategy completed by May:

January meeting: Group structure.Terms of reference.Group members.Reporting and approval procedure. After this meeting, BW will write up the conclusions and issue to all group members for approval.

February meeting: Final discussion and approval of group organisation (as above). If necessary a group vote will be taken. Groups then start work.

March meeting: An interim report from groups. An opportunity to monitor progress and, if necessary, correct any group which has headed off in the wrong direction.

April meeting: Final report back from working groups. After which BW write up conclusions and circulate to all group members. At the same time the conclusions are circulated to BW’s technical experts for approval (heritage, environment etc).

May meeting: Final meeting and approval of group conclusions. If necessary with a group vote.

We assume that “correct any group which has headed off in the wrong direction” in March means that BW will not accept any proposals which don’t tie in with its overall aims of getting rid of liveaboard boaters.

The next Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group meeting is on Friday 25 February at 10am at the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust office, Devizes Wharf. Here are the minutes and agenda papers from 28 January.

28 JANUARY 2011, 10am – 1pm
K&A Trust (upper floor), Devizes Wharf

1.Introductions of new members. 5 mins.
2.MSSG timetable overview (appended). 10 mins.
3.Agenda and aim of break out session. 10 mins
4.Break-out discussion session – Working groups structure, members and terms of reference (inc reporting/approval procedure) (Proposals appended). 1 ½ hour.
5.Review of conclusions. 45 mins.
7.Session conclusions & date of next meeting. 15 mins.

Expected attendance
Sally Ash (Head of Boating Business), British Waterways
Damian Kemp (Project Officer), British Waterways
John Webb, K&A Trust representative
Tim Wheeldon, Inland Waterways Association representative
Rich Burchill, Residential Boat Owners Association representative (+ Rex Walden, Chair of RBOA)
Geoffrey Rogerson, National Association of Boat Owners representative
Pauline King, Association of Waterway Cruising Clubs representative
Mayur Bhatt (Head of Equality) and Ken Oliver (Canal Officer), Wiltshire CC
Panda Smith and Kevin Humphries, unaffiliated boaters representatives
John Froggatt, Association of Pleasure Craft Operators representative
Keith Rossiter and Dave Batho, Valley Parish Alliance representatives
Nick Brown, National Bargee Travellers Association
Bath & North East Somerset representative – NB due to work pressures Ann Robins has withdrawn from the group. B&NES has promised to appoint another suitable representative.
NB Break out session discussion groups as before:

The working groups should be:-
Zoning Groups –
Bathampton to Dundas
Dundas to Bradford-on-Avon
Bradford-on-Avon to Semington
Semington to Devizes
These are manageable sections of canal, which can be meaningfully surveyed by group members with local knowledge. If necessary the group may decide to co-opt one or two local individuals who have a particular interest or knowledge of the stretch of canal to be surveyed.
Each group will be issued with a set of existing moorings maps (already contained in the Essential Information Pack) and will confirm or correct what is already there.
The maps are marked with 24 and 48 hour visitor moorings and long term permit zones. Unmarked parts of the map are, by default, 14 day casual mooring zones. There is also at least one ‘no mooring’ zone (Ferry Lane bridge, Claverton), which is not marked; the groups should also consider – as agreed – ‘breathing spaces’.

Enforcement Group – a single group to look at enforcement organisation and procedures. Will recommend changes to the enforcement structure, organisation and related processes. This group should also consider the ‘lengthsman’ proposal and the definition of ‘place’ in the context of movement for continuous cruisers.

Towpath Environment & Services – a single group looking at issues affecting the towpath, hedgerows and surrounding canal environment, e.g. waste disposal, water points, maintenance of footpaths and hedges, cyclists etc.

1.Four Zoning Groups
Suggested division of labour :
1.Zoning Group 1 – Bathampton to Dundas
2.Zoning Group 2 – Dundas to Bradford on Avon
3.Zoning Group 3 – Bradford on Avon to Semington
4.Zoning Group 4 – Semington to Devizes
The objectives of the zoning groups are to:
Review current time limits and assess whether any changes need to be made in order to improve the balance of the needs and interests of different waterway users. Proposed changes may include (but not be restricted to):
Increasing or decreasing (or removing) the geographical extent of any mooring zone.
Increasing or decreasing time-limits.
Introducing ‘breathing spaces’.
Implementing extended stay charges.
The ‘menu’ of mooring zone time limits is:
No mooring at any time (‘breathing space’ between moorings)
Service mooring for water point etc
48 hours or 72 hours (e.g. for exploring a particular location)
7 day (e.g. for ‘weekending’ boats)
14 day (casual mooring, default classification)
Winter mooring (November to March inclusive – up to 50% of a visitor mooring length may be allocated for winter permits)
Long term leisure mooring (permit holders only)
Long term residential mooring (permit holders only)
Mooring for registered trading boats (In locations with high tourist footfall, a small number of berths may be designated for the exclusive use of licensed roving trading boats. Long term moorings may also be created for static trading vessels, subject to BW’s boating trade operator agreements.)

What is the ideal size for a group? How should members be selected/recruited?
Each group to appoint a co-ordinator to organise towpath walks/meetings.
An informal presentation of interim findings/progress is to be made at the March meeting and final findings presented at the April meeting.
(BW will provide base maps.)

Enforcement group
The objective of the enforcement group is to consider how enforcement processes could be made more effective. In doing this it’s important to ensure that proposals are affordable (Currently BW spends approximately £47,000 on enforcement manpower for this stretch).
Headings that might be useful:
Specific tasks and whether any of them could be undertaken by local agents or volunteers
Frequency of patrols and their purpose
Criteria for granting exceptional exemption from overstaying penalties
How should members be selected/recruited?
Each group to appoint a co-ordinator to organise site visits and meetings.
An informal presentation of interim findings/progress to be made at the March meeting and final findings presented at the April meeting.
Environment & services group
The objective of the environment & services group is toReview current service provision (such as water, waste disposal, electricity etc) with a view to suggesting whether any changes need to be made and how these changes would improve the waterway environment for users. Consider how these might be funded
Proposed changes may include (but not be restricted to):
Introducing or removing services.
The provision of car parking.
Mitigating the impact of certain activities (such as hard edging for particular mooring sites or fishing pegs)

How should members be selected/recruited?
Each group to appoint a co-ordinator to organise site visits and meetings.
An informal presentation of interim findings/progress to be made at the March meeting and final findings presented at the April meeting.

Notes: 5th Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group Meeting
28th January 2011
BW: Damian Kemp (Chair)
K&A Trust: John Webb
IWA: Tim Wheeldon
RBOA: Rich Burchill
NABO: Geoffrey Rogerson and Andrew Colyer
AWCC: Pauline King
APCO: John Froggatt
WCC: Ken Oliver
Unaffiliated Boaters: Panda Smith and Kevin Humphries
VPA: Keith Rossiter and Dave Batho
NBTA: Nick Brown

DK explained Sally Ash’s absence due to personal events.
DK explained that Rex Walden (Chair, RBOA) could not attend due to diary conflict but would attend next meeting.

B&NES/Wiltshire CC
DB gave overview of meeting with B&NES CC – MSSG still seen as important within B&NES and it intends to stay ‘involved’, although not as a permanent member of the group.
DK had also recently spoken to B&NES and had interpreted his conversation differently – he thought that B&NES would be fielding someone at the next meeting.
DB has requested an insertion into B&NES core strategy (via consultation).
KO informed the group that both Mayur Bhatt and Elly Townsend had left WCC. There was some concern that the group now lacked MB’s equality expertise. DK agreed to contact Samantha Jones from B&NES equalities team to enquire whether she would be able to join group.
KO asked whether any progress had been made (by BW) on assessing the capacity of the K&A. KO also wanted to know if any decisions had been made on how the MSSG will interact with the Local Waterway Board and what prospect there was for starting a similar group mooring issues East of Devizes.

Groups split into three discussion groups:
Group A: PK, PS, JW and KH
Group B: TW, KR, NB, RB and AC
Group C: GR, DB, JF and KO.
Summaries of conclusions to be circulated in separate document (once DK has received them from each group and compiled)

DB to circulate, for info, requested insertion into B&NES core strategy.
DK to invite Samantha Jones at B&NES and to sit on MSSG.
DK to get an update from Oda Dijksterhuis, senior ecologist at BW, on the work investigating the capacity of the K&A.
DK to get feedback from Mark Stephens, K&A waterway manager, and Mike Rodd, Chair of Local Waterway Board, on KO’s question about any planned interaction between MSSG and Local Waterway Board. – the strategy will be nearly finished by the time the new Board is established and any remaining follow up work will fall within the remit of the new board, probably within a subcommittee. The practicalities of this can be resolved closer to the inception of the Board.
DK to discuss the prospect of a second K&A MSSG East of Devizes with colleagues and report back to KO. – initial feedback is that before embarking on the Eastern end we will need to review the lessons learned from the Western approach before committing to same for the East.
DK to arrange production of a new map showing the K&A all the way West to Lock 7, Bath Bottom Lock.
One member from each group to write up conclusions from discussion and email to DK.
DK, if possible, to update MSSG on outcome of litigation re continuous cruising.
DK to put ‘How will ongoing monitoring of strategy be carried out post-implementation/how will we measure success?’ on agenda for next meeting.
DK to circulate final versions of 8th November and 10th December meeting minutes for approval.
DK to confirm venue and time of next meeting. – confirmed for 25th Feb at Devizes Wharf.

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