Documents obtained via Freedom of Information show that BW has recruited Will Chapman, the driving force behind Save Our Waterways, to set up local mooring strategies led by “well-informed boaters who are also parish councillors” as Sally Ash reported in December at the Kennet and Avon local mooring strategy meeting. We understand that Mr Chapman is a Parish Councillor in Alrewas.
In doing this BW has presented local mooring strategies as a key part of BW’s move to charity status, which assumes there will be considerable input from local (settled) communities into the governance of the charity on a local level. Sally Ash gave a presentation to Lichfield District Parish Forum on 24 January which blurred the boundaries between “local mooring strategy steering groups” and the overall local governance of the new charity. This will undoubtedly cause problems. On the Kennet and Avon, where a trial local structure is being piloted, there is a clear distinction between the Local Mooring Strategy Steering Group, which has a time-limited job to do, and the Kennet and Avon Canal Partnership Board, which is an ongoing local management board.
Hard work for no purpose
Will Chapman has worked hard to promote Sally’s revised vision of local mooring strategies led by boaters who are parish councillors, as you can see from his blog http://waterwaywatch.org
However according to a comment on his blog, Sally Ash is up to her usual roughshod tactics – in a meeting with canal traders (who are also threatened by another of her proposals, see our article below) she admitted that there is no need for local mooring strategies as most parish councils are happy with the way things are and don’t think there is a problem. It appears from the emails between Will, Sally and Damian Kemp that some parish councils are more interested in encouraging boats to stop in their area and spend money in shops, pubs and rural post offices, than in chasing away liveaboard boaters without moorings.
Boats without moorings targeted
However, BW’s plan for these local mooring strategies clearly targets boats without moorings and favours boats with home moorings in each local area. The information BW has provided for Mr Chapman to recruit people to lead local mooring strategy committees includes tables of boat sightings listing the “Number of CC sightings in this km length 1 April – 30 Sept 2010” and others for hotspots and “critical km lengths” which are “those with more than double the average” number of sightings. When we asked BW what “CC” stood for in the table of boat sightings, we were told “CC stands for Continuous Cruiser.” Will Chapman has reported that he is “already targeting the hotspots shown on the map” provided for him by BW, presumably to set up local mooring strategies in those areas – so we can expect more prejudice-driven local mooring plans.
The net cast wide
Local mooring strategy groups have been started in Fazeley, Alrewas, Stone and the Caldon Canal. According to Sally Ash, Fazeley was chosen as the first area for a mooring strategy because “we know there are persistent and embarrassing continuous moorer challenges opposite our office from time to time”; she has been trying to recruit a Fazeley parish councillor to this group.
Will Chapman, Damian Kemp and Sally Ash between them have also contacted people in Tamworth Cruising Club, Fradley and Streethay, Fishwick (Whittington) and were also looking for contacts in Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands, Shuttington, Drayton Basset, and Wigginton & Hopwas. Outside Staffordshire Mr Chapman had recruited potential local mooring strategy group leaders on the BCN and in Lancaster, Manchester, London and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal who were willing to go ahead once an outline had been agreed.
Smart phone surveillance
The information we received also reveals that BW has plans to write software for smart phones to enable volunteers to log boat sightings straight to BW’s electronic boat sighting records. According to these documents it also looks like BW patrol the waterways in Staffordshire every 30 days on average. The national average appears to be a patrol every 20 days, whereas BW patrol the Kennet and Avon weekly. Draw your own conclusions!
Here is the presentation to Staffordshire Parish Councils Sally Ash presentation to Staffs Parish Councils
Here is the BW correspondence regarding Staffordshire Staffs Local Mooring Strategy emails