As boaters on Canal & River Trust (CRT) waterways anxiously await an update on CRT’s new licence fee structure (now expected in September or October), the NBTA is gearing up to ballot its members on what actions they are willing to take to oppose any attack on the itinerant liveaboard community.
CRT carried out a misleading consultation survey between February and April 2023 in which it proposed that boaters without a home mooring could be forced to pay higher licence fees than those with a mooring. Many of these boaters are itinerant liveaboards and NBTA members. This divisive and possibly unlawful move would threaten the future of the entire boating community and begin a process of pricing low-income boaters off the water.
If CRT attempts to charge boats without home moorings more than those with, the NBTA has resolved to ask members whether they oppose this and, if so, what collective actions they would be willing to take. The NBTA will put forward the following actions for consideration:
• Licence Strikes – Collectively withhold payment of our licence fees.
• Sound the Alarms – Collectively blow our horns at the same predetermined start and end time all over the network.
• Blockades – Bring our boats together at a number of key locations on the network to obstruct the navigation.
• Protests – March on the CRT Offices.
• Flotillas – Travel in a group with banners down the navigation.
• Picket CRT events/stalls – Use the CRTs publicity to inform the public of the attack on boaters.
NBTA Secretary Ian McDowell said:
“The fact that CRT would even propose charging boaters without a home mooring more for their licence than those with one is a clear attack on our community. CRT claim this is a fairer way to reduce their current financial problems and maintain the crumbling waterways infrastructure – but those financial problems and the parlous nature of the waterways are due to their mismanagement. For CRT, ‘fairness’ is a word to hide their real agenda – marginalising boaters without a home mooring. Whenever they talk about fairness it is always a preamble to making our lives more difficult. We will refuse to be priced off the waterways with any means we have at our disposal!”
The NBTA is ready to mobilise its membership in opposition to any attack on our community and our way of life. Join the NBTA online here https://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk/membership/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0118 321 4128 in order to join the Association and keep up to date with the campaign to oppose differential and divisive licensing, or check back here for updates.
For a brief history of attempts by CRT and British Waterways to change the licensing structure, see https://nbtalondon.co.uk/2023/07/04/crt-up-to-their-old-tricks-again/