Boaters are holding the Easter Regatta against the surcharge in Paddington, one of the most corporatised parts of the network. The main event will be on Saturday 30th March 2024.
Have you ever had to pay extra for not having something?
Well if you are a boater without a home mooring that is what Canal & River Trust (CRT) has in store for you from April 1st (yes really) 2024. CRT says it is in financial dire straits. It blames a number of factors for this: the reduction of the Government grant (which it was told from day one of its formation in 2012 would be cut completely), recent inflation, and climate change all get a mention. And now it is trying to blame boaters without a home mooring. The only place it refuses to lay the blame is at its own feet. But this is where the blame truly belongs.
The short history of CRT is littered with financial negligence, poor decision making, spending on vanity projects and hare-brained waterways management schemes; whether it is the millions of pounds wasted on attempting to raise income through the Friends scheme or the £250 000+ spent on its failed “safety zones” in London to name but two. CRT is an exercise in financial mismanagement and failure. From April 1st (yes, really) 2024, boaters will have to pay a surcharge on top of their licence if they do not have a home mooring. This will start at 5% rising in 5% increments over 5 years to 25%.
CRT say that this is only fair because we get more “utility” from our licences, a claim that it is unable to support with any data. Anyone with a knowledge of how CRT tries to spin its management of the waterways knows that when it speaks about fairness it is a dog whistle to justify, and gain support for, the further marginalisation of itinerant boaters. It is a wedge CRT continually tries to use to split the wider boating community.
The surcharge is not about raising money – the income generated even at the 25% rate wouldn’t cover the salaries of the organisation’s top 15 earners. Instead it is another attempt to blame our community for the parlous state of the waterways resulting from CRT’s mismanagement and to marginalise us out of existence.
We cannot allow this attempt by CRT target our community to stand. Their wide beam surcharge which was left unchallenged and will now rise to much as 75% for itinerant widebeamers, shows that once CRT is allowed to get away with an attack it will just keep turning the screw.
Join boaters and supporters from all over the country at 12pm on Saturday, 30th March for the Boaters’ Easter Regatta in Paddington and show your opposition to CRT’s attempts to blame us for its incompetence. There will be stalls, entertainment, and a protest.
Attend by boat or however you can – the more people who show contempt for CRT’s plans, the more likely we can continue to fight and defeat them. Together we are strong.
Start at 12 noon outside Paddington Station on the canal.