Template Complaint letter about ‘safety’ zones enforcement

CRT has started enforcing the ‘no mooring’ sites in the ‘safety’ zones. We will take CRT to court. The first step in the that is going through their internal procedures, which start with a complaint.

If CRT says they will take action against you because your in a ‘no mooring’ site in a safety zone, send a complaint to customer.feedback@canalrivertrust.org.uk. If you are willing to be a case study in the court case against let us know by emailing nbtalondon@gmail.com.

CRT doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on, we will not let CRT get away with this.

Template complaint letter below:

Dear Canal & River Trust,

This is a formal complaint in line with the Canal & River Trust (CRT) complaints procedure. I am not satisfied with the new enforcement measures that CRT has introduced in the stretches of the River Lea between Tottenham Lock and Old Ford Lock (Lower Lea), and between Carthagena Lock and Aqueduct Lock (Broxbourne). In particular I am not satisfied with the Enforcement Letter sent to me on [FILL IN DATE].

The majority of boats moored in these areas are not blocking the navigation and nor do they pose any safety issues. The vast majority of the new enforcement measures in these areas are not being brought against boats which are blocking the navigation, and neither are the new measures attempting to make the river safer for navigation. The new enforcement measures are having a significant adverse negative impact on boats that are travelling through both areas and which require a place to moor.

CRT claims that the newly-designated ‘no mooring’ sites are “existing ‘no mooring’ sites”. However, all of these sites are in exactly the same locations as the red zone ‘no mooring’ sites which CRT set out within the so called ‘water safety zones’, previously known as ‘water sport zones’.

CRT claims that the ‘no mooring’ sites in these areas are part of its existing rules, and that boaters moored on these areas will have enforcement action taken against them under the new ‘Improper Mooring Process’.

Boaters have lawfully moored at these locations without any penalty for many years; the locations have historically been used as temporary mooring spaces. The above-mentioned restrictions are new and are in the exact places on the map that CRT had planned to designate as ‘no mooring’ as part of the ‘water safety zones’. These ‘no mooring’ areas are therefore not existing rules but new rules.

CRT stated its position in a public response to the Stakeholder Engagement Report of September 2021 by Hopkins Van Mil (HVM Report) on. CRT’s public response was entitled “Thank you for sharing your views on the Water Safety Zone proposals. Here is what we plan to do next”. The HVM Report was commissioned by CRT.

In its public response of 1st September 2021, CRT stated that it was “committed to reviewing our previously published proposals alongside other alternative suggestions before making our final decision on what to do next”. To us, this meant that CRT had retracted its decision to implement the ‘water safety zones’ on the Lower Lea and in Broxbourne as previously published, until further discussions had taken place. CRT’s public response also stated that CRT would be concentrating on increasing awareness by providing more information through signage, emails and leafleting (rather than moving forward with the proposed ‘water safety zone’ enforcement measures). The maps of the proposed ‘water safety zones’ which CRT made public earlier in 2021 show the exact places where CRT is now applying the new enforcement measures. This makes it obvious that the new enforcement measures are not about enforcing existing rules, but are part of the previously proposed ‘water safety zones’. CRT has bulldozed through its previous proposals by reinventing them as existing rules, with no further discussion or consultation regarding the ‘water safety zones’.

Further to this, CRT claims in its “water safety zones update” of the 21st December 2021 that mooring in these ‘no mooring’ sites will trigger the use by CRT of the ‘Improper Mooring Process’ against the boater, starting on 10th January 2022. The ‘Improper Mooring Process’ uses the CRT’s “Mooring Obligations Booklet and Boater’s Handbook” (Booklet and Handbook) in reference to locations where CRT believes boats should not be moored. The Booklet and Handbook both say that boats should not be moored at the following:

-Near any bridges -Under fixed bridges -Near sharp bends -On the outside of bends

In the case of mooring it is wrong to use a one size fits all approach: the River Lea is wider than many parts of the network. Many bridges across the navigation are far too narrow to moor the boat under and/or near to, however, the River Lea also has many bridges and bends that are more than wide enough to moor under, near to or on, without blocking the navigation or making navigation unsafe. Simply the fact that a location is a bend or bridge is not enough to decide that boats should not be moored there. There are other contributing factors to consider such as the width of the navigation; the sharpness of the bend; and if the boat is moored on the inside or outside of the bend; and similar contributing factors apply to bridges.

CRT should not be applying a one size fits all approach to safety rules along the River Lea such as those listed in its public statement of 27th October 2021. In this statement, CRT states that its staff have been carrying out daily walks along the River Lea talking to boaters about “where boats shouldn’t be moored, for example on bends, on particularly narrow stretches”. These examples are not mentioned in CRT’s existing rules listed in its own Booklet and Handbook. The Booklet and Handbook does not say to not moor on a bend but not to moor on “sharp bends” or “on the outside of bends”. “Narrow stretches” are not mentioned in any way previously and neither of these have historically been enforced. Many of the ‘no mooring’ sites within the ‘water safety zones’ fall outside the definitions in the Booklet and Handbook and therefore, in the ‘water safety zones’, CRT has invented new ‘restrictions’ to compensate for the fact that many of the ‘no mooring’ sites do not fit into the definitions in the Booklet and Handbook. Furthermore, there are many examples of permanent CRT moorings and operational craft that are moored in what would be considered ‘no mooring’ sites under these new blanket rules, not just on the River Lea, but across the network. There are areas under bridges and on bends where mooring is accepted, encouraged and sometimes monetised by CRT. Here are some limited examples of this:

Paddington (A4206 bridge); Rickmansworth (on the outside of a bend above Batchworth lock); Broxbourne Cruising Club (on the outside of a bend); Rye House (on the outside of a sharp bend); Stonebridge; South Island Marina (on a bend); Barge East Mooring (near to a bridge); Burnt Mill Lock (on a bend); Sheering Mill Lane (on a bend; Brentford (Snakes & Ladders, on the outside of a bend).

I do not think that the above list of bends and bridges are inappropriate places to moor, but we are pointing them out to show that mooring on bends and under bridges should not automatically be assumed to be improper mooring.

In accordance with the Public Right of Navigation, which exists on the River Lea, boats have the right to moor for temporary periods. The Public Right of Navigation, as stated in Halsbury’s Laws of England, 5th edition, paragraph 691, states:

“The public right of navigation includes the right… to remain for a convenient time, to load and unload, to moor and fix temporary moorings in the waterway.”

The length of time that can be considered “convenient” cannot be determined in advance. According to Moore v British Waterways [2013] EWCA Civ 73, paragraph 63, a reasonable right of stopping: “….must depend upon circumstances. You cannot lay down à priori what is reasonable”.

This is a Common Law right and cannot be extinguished by Byelaws or Terms and Conditions, therefore for CRT to designate these places as ‘no mooring’ areas is unlawful.

CRT does not have the authority to restrict mooring on the River Lea. CRT has announced that it will revoke the licences of boats moored in the new ‘no mooring’ sites. However, in accordance with Section 17 of the British Waterways Act 1995, CRT does not have the lawful ability to refuse to licence a boat a boat licence if it has Third Party insurance, a Boat Safety Certificate and the boat either has a home mooring or will be used bona fide for navigation (does not remain continuously in a place for longer than 14 days unless reasonable). I am in full compliance with Section 17 of the Act, therefore my licence may not be lawfully revoked or refused, which contradicts the Enforcement Letter.

To remedy my complaint, I require CRT to end the new enforcement measures between Tottenham Lock and Old Ford Lock (Lower Lea) and between Carthagena Lock and Aqueduct Lock (Broxbourne) on the River Lea. Furthermore, I require the contested ‘no mooring’ signs to be removed and the maps adjusted to indicate that mooring is available to boaters in these places.

The details of the ‘no mooring’ sites where we require the ‘no mooring’ signs and mooring restrictions to be removed are in the attached document https://nbtalondon.files.wordpress.com/2022/01/v5-nbtal-position-on-red-zone-jan-2022-1-1.pdf

Thank you. I look forward to your reply within 15 working days.

Yours faithfully,

Name Boat name and number