We will keep fighting the discriminatory licence fee ‘surcharge’

This April Fool’s Day will be the beginning of Canal & River Trust (CRT) charging boats for not having a home mooring. However, this is no April fool’s joke!

Unchallenged, this will be the beginning of CRT being able to use the price of a licence to get rid of boats without home moorings. Each year the price for boats without home moorings will go up more than for boats with a home mooring. In 2002 British Waterways (the predecessor to CRT) proposed to charge boats without home moorings 250% more than boats with. If we let CRT get away with this there is nothing to stop it from pricing us off the waterways. CRT has always wanted to get rid of our way of life and this could be the way it achieves this goal. We mustn’t let CRT get away with pricing us off the waterways.

Most boaters are against this differential licence pricing. CRT’s own survey showed that over 97% of boat owners without home moorings were against the charge and 60% of all boaters preferred options that didn’t charge people for not having a home mooring.

Efforts to communicate to CRT that charging for not having a home mooring is discriminatory, unjustified and unwanted by NBTA, IWA, NABO and others, haven’t changed CRT’s mind. CRT will simply not be persuaded by words; each time its arguments are shown to have no substance, CRT comes back with more cut and paste nonsense. We must use every leverage we have at our disposal to show CRT that its best option is to stop this so called ‘surcharge’ on boats without home moorings.

So what leverage do we have?

Fundamentally, the leverage we have is to make it more desirable for CRT to stop the ‘surcharge’ than continue with it. To make it less desirable for CRT to continue with the ‘surcharge’, we need to hit CRT where it hurts. This means undermining its public image and its income.

To damage CRT’s income, a group of boaters is planning a large scale licence strike. However, a licence strike needs relatively large numbers to have an impact. If you want to get involved, you can sign up and contact the group with any questions you have at http://tinyurl.com/licencestrike

Other than finances, the another thing CRT prizes highly is its public image. It’s not just that CRT’s donations are linked to how people view it. In addition to that, the whole premise of CRT’s existence is based on its public image: that it is a charity doing charitable good. This is why it spends millions of pounds on PR events and social media etc *. But as long as CRT continues with its plan to charge boats for not having a home mooring, we will work tirelessly to undermine its public image. Most of us don’t want to be undermining CRT. However, since this is one of the best tactics for leverage we have, we must!

Therefore, we ask that people who are opposed to this discriminatory licence fee increase to join us in leafleting against CRT, at the very events and stalls where CRT are trying to improve its public image. Some of us have already had great success and amazing public support in such actions at CRT events. Until CRT backs down, let’s use our leverage, let’s attend its events and stalls and let the public know what CRT is really about!

Using these methods of active influence, together we can stop the discriminatory licence fee increase!

Come to Boater’s Easter Regatta on Saturday 30th March! This will be a celebration of the boater community and a protest against the surcharge to mobilise ourselves to carry on. Meet at the canalside entrance to Paddington Underground Station at 12 noon for speeches, boater music, activities and more… More information here:


To be involved please email the campaign to here:


*An example of millions spent by CRT on its public image is the £8 million last year on what it calls ‘Community engagement and participation’. CRT’s last financial report states that this comprises ‘engagement and events, strategy and planning, marketing and media.’ See pages 57-58 of the Canal & River Trust Annual Report & Accounts