Shoddy reporting by the BBC

The BBC reported on the new Foxhangers Marina on Wednesday. Investigative journalism at its best, the sort we expect from the Beeb?

Link to the BBC story

No chance. A simple parroting of Land and Water Estates’ press release. Completely missing any of the issues or important points about this marina or the situation on the canal.

for instance;
There are only 2 residential moorings on the marina and these are for staff
There is no docking or engineering facilities
The Trust’s statement about ‘moored boats spoiling the view’ and ‘overcrowding’ simply reinforces stereotypes.

So what does the Kennet and Avon get for providing Mr Warren his huge profit for a hole in the ground? Another 250 leisure boats with no facilities to maintain or manage them. A loss of 25 online moorings in the Devizes area according to BW policy.

Come on BBC, you can do better than this.

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One Response to “Shoddy reporting by the BBC”

  1. Nick Brown MonsterID Icon Nick Brown says:

    Just sent to the BBC:

    I have read BBC story in relation to the announcement of a new marina that intends to provide “off-line” moorings on the Kennet and Avon canal.

    I have to say that this is a story written on the most based of terms and is clear demonstration of the BBC appeasing big business. Land and Water Estates is playing down its corporate structure and playing up its local connections. In reality the company is a large corporation with several interests and its “local presence” constitutes a shroud over this corporate profiteering. Please be under no illusion: marinas are big business.

    Tingdene, for example is a multi-million pound example, running a number of marinas including the large example at Windsor. The reason for their wealth: they are catering to the wealthy and can command top dollar rates from their clients, who can pay.

    The other side of the coin is occupied by the live-aboard boaters, those bargee travellers who embrace a nomadic existence and, it has to be said, an alternative “low impact” lifestyle (usually with substantially reduced carbon footprints) to their white boat brethren. Not that the “yoghurt pot owners” are particularly concerned as their budgets (and outlook) is typically unassuaged by such wholesomeness.

    However niceties aside, the live-aboarders engage in a lifestyle that is no “free lunch” but is instead something that is driven by a conviction for a low impact lifestyle and the shunning of a consumerist existence that is otherwise the norm of our society. The fact that many live-aboarders are on low incomes, scraping an existence is by-the-by.

    What however is plain is that these people live on their boats (as opposed to the “yoghurt potters”, who potter for amusement) and as such enjoy certain rights enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights. Such rights, for example, as “respect for home” and “non interference with correspondence” – all things that the normal stalwart consumerist takes for granted.

    The BBC may not be aware that a running battle is under way between British Waterways, certain Borough Councils (Reading Unitary in particular) and to a lesser extent with the Environment Agency in which the primary objective is to ethnically cleanse the live-aboarders from the environs of “big business”.

    The marina at Rowde is, strangely enough, just down the road (well, canal) from the group of boaters near Bath who appear to be bearing the brunt of the intended action (as alluded to in a throw away comment at the end of the BBC article). This is something which is about to be judicially reviewed.

    The Secretary of State has passed an edict that live aboard boaters enjoy protection in law by virtue of their minority status. Indeed two sub divisions of the community of Bargee Travellers (Irish and Roma) are legally classed as an ethnic minority and enjoy specific protection from persecution, as such.

    The policy of BW is in essence persecuting these classes and is unlawful. BW is in essence side-stepping the human rights protection. Reading has recently coerced someone to set sail in unsafe conditions and consequently put her life at risk.

    One other property of live-aboard nomads is that they are nomadic. The published policy of BW is that for each 10 off-line moorings created by virtue of marina developments, 1 in-line mooring will be decommissioned. Being cooped up in a marina is for a bargee traveller, used to the freedom to move at will along the canal, perhaps park up for a period, perhaps see their child trough school in a vaguely consistent manner, perhaps achieve medical treatment by managing to lock-down a static address for a period of time, is not far removed from being nailed into a veal crate.

    As for the minor matter of cost, moving at will on the canal (even taking into account the ongoing harassment from BW) costs nothing apart from diesel (biodiesel perhaps) and time. “Ah”, you might say, “so it’s about a free lunch after all”. Except that many live-aboarders are pretty poor even if some are well educated. But that is the life chosen, the path trod. And no one has the ethical right to deny someone their choice of which path they take, which lifestyle they engage.

    A marina berth, conversely, can cost anything up to the best part of a single bedroom flat to rent, per month. Admittedly a low-income person could claim Housing Benefit to pay the princely sum (notwithstanding the HB being capped, the hoops to jump through, the unreliability of the payments, the ease with which the benefit is arrested…). However many live-aboarders feel it unethical to draw benefit and prefer to seek an “honest wage” – which means “living on the canal or river (as the case may be)”.

    BW has a reputation for converting the shared domain of the live-aboard boater and holidaymaker, to one of big business taking control and pushing out the non-profitable elements. Wasn’t it the case that the ideology of Milton Friedman was finally discredited as a result of post-Katrina New Orleans and the Iraq war, to mention a few? It sounds to me like the goings on, on the Kennet and Avon are a small domestic version of the tourism boom in Sri Lanka, perhaps.

    It appears that with the non-compliant consultation that BW conducted to assess views on live-aboarders use of moorings on the canal system, the upcoming moorings consultation by Reading Unitary that breaches the principles of purdah and the unaccountable legislating that EA appears to be warming up, that moorings has become party political – at least for the Liberal Democrats – and thus fair game for an upcoming election.

    With this in mind, the National Bargee Travellers Association suggests that the BBC might find it constructive and genuinely informative to write a more balanced article on the issues of live-aboard boaters rather than pandering to big business.

    Yours sincerely
    Nick Brown
    Legal Officer, National Bargee Travellers Association