Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) policy statement and report on its 2022 consultation on a minimum standard for boaters’ facilities, published on 30th May and 5th July 2023, states that CRT will increase its minimum cruising distance between facilities from 4 hours to 1 day, even though 25% to 35% of respondents (depending on the specific facility) thought a gap of 5 hours was too great. Since then we have had multiple reports of CRT closing facilities all around the waterways.
The report shows boaters think that water taps, rubbish disposal/ recycling, Elsan disposal and pump outs are essential services, whereas showers, washing machines and tumble driers were not essential. Around half those who responded opposed the removal of toilets and showers; CRT stated that it would have to “consider further and look at site by site options for toilets and showers”.
A large majority thought that the gap between facilities should be shorter where there is increased seasonal demand at some locations such as ‘honeypot’ sites or where large numbers of hire boats operate, or where there were physical structures that could increase travel times or cause delays.
However, the survey did not ask questions that would have been more relevant to liveaboard boaters, such as how frequently in days or weeks boaters need to use each type of facility, or whether the gap between facilities should be shorter in areas where there were greater numbers of boats all year round.
CRT appears to have treated the consultation as a majority voting exercise in which the needs of the minority have not been considered. Only 27% of respondents were liveaboard boaters without a home mooring. Implementation of the consultation outcome is already making itinerant boat dwellers’ significantly lives more difficult.
You can download CRT’s policy statement here 48107-customer-service-facility-policy-statement-2023 and consultation report here 48276-csf-minimum-standard-consultation-report
If you want to complain about the effect on you of CRT’s facilities closures, you can download a template letter here Complaint CRT facilities closure Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the CRT online contact form here https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/ways-to-contact-us
An independent study by researchers from Leeds and Newcastle universities says that “How boaters access clean drinking water and safe sanitation services on the waterways of England and Wales is part of a bigger story of water insecurity around the world”. They are crowdsourcing a map of facilities. They have had an article published in Waterways World which you can download here WW Water Points article – Jan 2023