Report of NBTA attendance at CRT Users Forum

Canal and River Trust National (CRT) User’ Forum – Birmingham 7th September 2016

Attended by Mike Doherty National Bargee Traveller Association (London Branch) (NBTA(L) on behalf of the NBTA.

Report of Forum concentrating on agenda items (3) Enforcement Update and (5) London Mooring Strategy and related questions and answers.

The other presentations were extremely interesting – especially the ones on asset management, flood relief and recovery in the Calder Valley and CRT’s recent engineering works and in house team – but the report concentrates on issues directly affecting boats with no home mooring.

Enforcement Update

Denise Yelland, CRT’s Head of Enforcement gave the presentation and first presented the latest statistics on restricted licences for continuous cruisers* (CRT’s term for boats with no home mooring), announced a rebranding and spoke about more providing more information on the website for continuous cruisers.

  • The enforcement statistics can be found in full here , however Denise Yelland concentrated on the presenting the statistics on restricted licences:
  • From May 2015 when the new enforcement policy came into force on all continuous cruisers* to June 2016, there have been 900 restricted licenses issued to boats.
  • Of these 36% are still on them, 37% have ‘passed’ the restricted period and have been given a full licence back, 23% have sold up, moved off CRT waters, or purchased a home mooring and 4% are in “further enforcement”.
  • 740 short or long term movement adjustments have been issued.
  • 8,600 14 day reminders have been issued.
  • 90 boats have been removed by CRT.
  • The Canal and River Trust Enforcement Team are rebranding and changing their name to “Boat Licence Customer Support” in early 2017.
  • There will be a signposted and dedicated ‘continuous cruiser’ page with fact sheet and FAQ’s for customers thinking about purchasing a boat and declaring ‘no home mooring’ on the CRT website.

London Mooring Strategy

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager, gave the presentation, started with statistics showing the rise in number of boats in London, said “London was a very busy waterway for boating”, spoke about central London winter moorings, online permanent moorings and encouraging more use of under-used sections of London’s 100 miles of canal and river (Springwell-Brentford-Duckets-Lee and Stort – Limehouse).

  • 1,615 continuous cruisers were sighted in London in the 2016 5th annual boat count (takes place in March) meaning an increase of 390 extra boats since the last count.
  • Increase has resumed after plateauing last year: 2012 -638 CCr’s / 2013 – 769 / 2014 – 1,031 / 2015 – 1,225 / 2016 – 1,615.
  • Biggest increase in East and Central London.
  • More work being done with dredging and towpath to allow mooring of under-used sections of canal.
  • Meeting with local user groups and residents and boaters orgs (NBTAL).
  • Working with developers with canal frontage to increase permanent moorings and facilities offside.
  • Hayes – working with council who want local towpath to become more used by CCr’s to ‘liven the place up’ – planning more rings and facilities – talking to other London councils about similar projects.
  • Will consult on “the demand for extra permanent onside (towpath) moorings” and review current policy which is to gradually reduce onside permanent moorings. (I.e they are thinking about converting towpath space into permanent rented moorings).
  • Five areas of paid bookable moorings for holiday boats and other user groups wanting to visit London.
  • Central London Winter Moorings coming back either this year or next at a price “commensurable with their prime location.”
  • Consulting London boaters starts now.
  • Draft London Mooring Strategy published in April 2017 for further consultation.
  • Final London Mooring Strategy published in December 2017 – will “inform” strategies for other areas.

Questions and Answers

  • The first question was asked by a representative from the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO), who asked what was CRT going to do about all the “bad publicity generated by organisations like the NBTA” particularly around cc’er mums and “that MP in Cheltenham” – surely CRT should be challenging that?

CRT’s Ian Rogers did not directly address the anti-NBTA claims in question and instead said “CRT need to be better at communicating some of the good work we do.”

  • Second (and third) question came from the NBTA (London) rep who asked CRT to state the standard adjustment for pregnant cc’ers and then addressed NABO’s statement and asked –surely if CRT want to avoid “bad publicity” and “the embarrassment of boaty mums with school age children turning up outside their offices waving banners the most humane thing for them to do would be to give them a break and add them into their reasonable adjustment policy? Are CRT going to adopt the NBTA proposal for boaters with school age children allowing them reduced movement during term time?”

The answer was taken by Denise Yelland who said that the standard adjustment for pregnant boaters was “no movement at all one month before and after the birth and reduced movement for 26 weeks after the birth.” She also said that pregnant boaters should get in touch with their Enforcement and that each case would be treated on an individual basis and that she was aware that “some births where harder than others and would require longer adjustments.” Then addressing the second question she said that CRT “had not ruled out adjustments for boaters with school age children,” but that it needed to be “considered carefully” to “ensure fairness for all canal user groups.” (This is a row-back from an earlier CRT stance that boaters with school age children were advised to purchase a permanent mooring).

  • Fourth question was on abandoned and derelict boats and where CRT doing enough to remove them – particularly those on Visitor Moorings. CRT answered that removing boats involved a long process and that they were doing their best.