On Saturday 26th March 2022, several hundred boaters and supporters converged on the Canal & River Trust (CRT) offices in Little Venice to protest against the imposition of new ‘no mooring’ areas on the River Lea in East London and CRT’s proposals for more paid-for visitor moorings on the towpath. CRT has imposed ‘no mooring’ signs on hundreds of mooring spaces on the River Lea in Hackney and Broxbourne, claiming that mooring in these ‘Water Safety Zones’ is unsafe. However, most of the towpath where the new ‘no mooring’ signs have gone up are on straight, wide stretches of the river where boaters have habitually moored safely with no issues for years.
Ian McDowell, Chair of NBTA London said: “This continued disregard for the people who live and work in these new ‘no mooring’ and proposed paid-for mooring areas drives boaters away from their livelihoods and out of their homes”.
Early in 2021, CRT announced that it would be restricting moorings along 10km of the river Lea, claiming that mooring in these ‘Water Safety Zones’ was unsafe. The NBTA and the London boating community fought against these so-called water safety zones. They organised flotillas in Broxbourne and Hackney, attended by over a thousand people. Realising what it was up against, CRT promised to collect and listen to the views of boaters and engaged us in consultation.
The results of the consultation were clear: boaters are concerned about safety, but the ‘safety zones’ wouldn’t make the river safer. The ‘River Lea Forum’ was established with representatives from all interested river user groups to discuss what would make the waterways safer. We were hopeful that we would sort this out through discussion. However CRT imposed the water safety zones anyway, putting up ‘no mooring’ signs in all the ‘red zones’ on the original ‘safety zones’ maps and claiming that these are restrictions that existed before the so-called ‘Water Safety Zones’ were proposed. Hundreds of boaters have defied CRT’s unfair and unjustified restrictions so far by mooring in the ‘no mooring’ areas, despite CRT serving enforcement notices under its Improper Mooring Process.