Complaint about CRT policy on school age children sent to Human Rights regulator

The NBTA has referred Canal & River Trust’s (CRT) policy on Bargee Travellers with school age children to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. CRT published its Equality Policy for Customer Service Delivery in October 2017. With regard to boaters without a home mooring who have school-aged children, CRT’s policy states that: “We have considered whether there needs to be a special adjustment to our usual requirements in these cases, however we do still expect these boaters to comply with our Guidance”.

This is contrary to the statement made by CRT to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on 4th October 2016 that “they will also consider requests for adjustments for families with school age children”. It also contradicts the statement made by CRT Chief Executive Richard Parry to Michelle Donelan MP on 25th November 2016 that “We … can conceivably see how a family could moor within 3-4 miles of a canal-side school during school terms, progressing steadily every fortnight, and remain compliant, provided their range of movement is then much greater throughout the non-school periods of the year…”.

Pending the outcome of the complaint, the NBTA recommends that Bargee Travellers with school age children on CRT waterways request adjustments to their cruising patterns along the lines of what is stated in Richard Parry’s letter to Michelle Donelan MP.

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CRT’s Equality policy is here


The Waterways Ombudsman stated in a case report (Case no 933) in February 2017 that CRT intended in the coming weeks to publish “illustrative cruising patterns” for boaters with school age children. One year on, there is no sign of these being published, although CRT has refused to respond to Freedom of Information requests about this matter. See

Boater families with school age children are becoming increasingly concerned that maintaining their children’s education either puts the family at risk of their home being seized, or stretches their resources to the limit and puts their children’s under unacceptable stress and exhaustion, damaging their ability to learn, due to early starts, long journeys to and from school and in winter, getting dangerously cold on the back of bicycles as their parents make very long cycle journeys to and from school.