Disabled bargee travellers – know your rights!

The National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) has published an advice briefing for disabled boaters and for boaters who are pregnant or elderly. As a result of campaigning by the NBTA and other groups, Canal & River Trust (CRT) has now adopted a standard procedure for assessing and agreeing adjustments to its enforcement procedure for boaters with disabilities.

It is important that you raise any disability issues if you are subject to any enforcement action or are refused a licence renewal and offered a ‘restricted’ one instead. Do not rely on the navigation or other authority making the offer.

If you have a disability, are older, or are pregnant, you are entitled under the Equality Act 2010 not to have the enforcement policies and procedures of CRT or any other authority applied to you in the same way as they would be applied to the majority.

For example, this means CRT cannot tell you that you should not be living on a boat because you are disabled, “too old” or pregnant. These rights are in addition to the rights of all boaters without home moorings on CRT waterways to stay in one place longer than 14 days if it is “reasonable in the circumstances”.

The NBTA has assisted a number of boat dwellers without home moorings to negotiate ‘reasonable adjustments’ to CRT’s enforcement procedure. For example, a boater who uses a mobility scooter is now able to use visitor moorings for 14 days at a time without attracting enforcement action, because he needs to be moored on a hard edge to get the mobility scooter on and off the boat.

In another case in London, a boater on a restricted licence with ongoing mental health issues, who was being supported by a NBTA London case worker, was offered an Equalities Adjustment to their cruising pattern by CRT. However, prior to the restricted licence, CRT had failed to inform the boater of the Equalities Adjustment policy, despite the boater informing them of their illness and treatment. If you are disable or have a chronic illness lasting more than 12 months, it is important that you make sure any CRT enforcement officer you are in contact with is aware of this policy.

The NBTA briefing for disabled boaters and for boaters who are pregnant or elderly is here NBTA Briefing on Equality Act Rights of Bargee TravellersV2

The CRT procedure ‘flow chart’ for implementing its Equalities Adjustments, which was obtained following a Freedom of Information request, is here Equality Adjustments Process Standard Letter and Flowchart