Thursday, 5 May 2011

London Boaters (updated)

The following box of text is from the London Boaters site. It is filled with emotive words that in fact mean very little and is designed to get people on their side where they don’t necessarily have a side to be on. This group of boaters have presumably signed up as Continuous Cruisers. If they haven’t signed the CC declaration then their licence requires them to have a permanent mooring. Either way they have broken their agreement with BW. BW could simply refuse to licence their boats and hoik them out of the water. But no BW are changing the rules so that those that signed the CC agreement are better able to comply with the rules. Lets get this straight BW are not a housing association. They are a statutory body (look it up). BW though, they probably don’t know it, have the same or similar remit to make the rules as any other statuary body, for instance HSE. Broadly speaking the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the framework law. HSE is part of that law and is responsible for building on to the framework of the Act with out the need to keep going back to parliament. BW, I think, have the same or very similar powers. (If that’s wrong then I wasted £600 of tax payers money when I left the RAF.)
Families living on houseboats near the Olympic Park claim they've become targets for "social cleansing".  “They’re trying to increase the distances we have to travel by so much that coupling relocation with the continuation of our lifestyle becomes impossible,” he says. “The rules are extremely draconian and breach the Human Rights Act because, essentially, they’re trying to define where people can live. And they have no legal right to do this.”  The boaters, who describe themselves as “gatekeepers of the canal” – believe that whatever BW’s intentions, the measures will inevitably cripple their ability to lead a peaceful life on Hackney’s waterways. “Plans to carve up the moorings into ‘neighbourhoods’ and charge boaters for overstays are being opposed by local river dwellers" “The London boat community in Hackney could soon be history if proposed British Waterways plans are brought into force in advance of the Olympics." 'Houseboat residents near the Olympic development site in east London are accusing British Waterways of an attempt at "social cleansing". They say proposed changes to rules for living on the canals before the 2012 Games could force hundreds of people from their water-based homes ...'
It is to BWs shame that this situation has been allowed to exist. Poor management of the rules is bound to cause people to think they can break the rules with impunity. However BW simply have to formalise, if not already the case, and apply the rules that exist now, not make new ones, and the situation will then come under control.
A while back a London Boater tweeted that he had been on his mooring for 5 years and had just received his first patrol notice which he was going to fight. So that’s 5 years with out paying a mooring fee. (At least £10k probably £15K or more) Were I he, I would say to myself , “OK I have got away with it so far, time to move on,” but no he is going to fight it. BW should present him with a bill for his back mooring fees then see how much fight he has in him.
To London Boaters I would say you have signed up to be CCers so go and CC. Stop complaining that you are no longer allowed to flout the rules. If you cant obey the CC rules due to work school or childcare situation then you are not a CCer.You should have a proper mooring. If you have got away with it this long be grateful move on. The only outcome is one that will be detrimental for all CCers alike both the genuine ones and the not so genuine ones. Its a lose/lose situation. If you lose we all lose. Don’t screw it up for every one else especially those that signed and do abide by the rules as laid down In the Guide for Mooring.
I am sure you understand The Guide for Mooring that is the paper with the rules on and you signed to say you would follow them rules. Yes you can be a pain in the arse and cause BW to waste money taking you to court but  wouldn’t it be better to let BW spend that money repairing the system for all to enjoy rather than pushing your luck and ending up with parts of the system closed due to lack of maintenance. I suppose you don’t care if they close canals, you are after all River Dwellers.
Finally I do resent you calling yourselves ‘London’ Boaters. You are boaters just like all of us. We all need to be treated  the same. If you try to cut yourself off as being different to other boaters BW will use that against you. Who would blame them. And as for being Gate Keepers of the Canal that's like a cat calling a fur ball an air filter.


Amy said...

Hear, hear!

NeilR said...

Two words... fantastic post! N

caes179 said...

Hi Maffi
Think you ought to get a job with BW.
This explains the issue as clear as it could be, not even an idiot would have trouble following it.

Wiggins said...

Anyone who uses scare quotes should be taken out & introduced to the pointy end of a carrot.

Bruce in Sanity said...

Nice one, Maffi!

Anonymous said...

Funny - looks to me like a strong & established community trying to protect what they have, not doing anyone any harm. I doubt they're bothering too much about what the Oxford Boaters are up to, so why do you worry about them?

John, nb Armadillo

Ronni said...

I have read your blog with great interest and would like to add my tuppence worth if that is ok with you. It is quite long, so it is a big tuppence.
Personally the way I understand the CC rule is that I have to move from one place to another every 14 days unless mitigating circumstances prevent me from doing this.
I believe this came came about historically, if you were to stay in any one parish for more than 14 days that parish were then responsible for your welfare, hence moving every 14 days. I may be wrong, but that explanation makes sense to me as the origins of the length of time allowed.
I understand that the CC part of the 1995 Act was brought in to accomodate those that did not want to be tied by a home mooring, retired people who wanted to spend their golden years moving around at their own pace, or those who used to work on the canals and rivers and wanted to remain there etc.
I totally agree with you regarding the fact that BW have brought this problem on themselves by not enforcing the 14 day rule at all with any clarity. I myself have been told by a BW enforcement officer in the past that it would be OK to stay in one place for longer than 14 days as they were concentrating on non licenced boats at that time. So I stayed where I was, I admit that. By the same token, if a traffic warden told me that it was ok for me to park on double yellows without getting a ticketfor what ever reason, I would take it as read, as I was given the information by an official representative.
I believe that the spirit of the act is to allow those that want to continuously cruise to do so, as long as they move every 14 days.
So , my question to you, or anyone else reading this ( with the greatest respect) would be:
If I, as a person with a CC licence, who chooses to live on my boat full time decide to visit relatives in point A for 2 weeks, move on to point B, say 5 miles away to visit friends for another 14 days, then point C 1 mile to get shopping, point D 2 miles because I like it there, point A to check in on relatives again, point E which is 1 mile from point B because I liked the look of it as I passed it the first time, point F as it was recommended to me by another boater , etc etc etc
Why am I not considdered to be continuously cruising? I am moving from place to place every 14 days as the law requires me to do am I not?

Ronni said...

This is the other half of my tuppence.

I also know that there are a very small minority of people with CC licences who are taking full advantage of the fact that BW have been totally incompetant over the last 10 years or so.
But the vast majority of us who have CC licences do move every 2 weeks and follow the rules.
I wonder if you have actually read the mooring policy that BW are proposing, and worry if you havn't. To give you an example, they are planning split The River Stort, a 21km stretch of river into two 7 day mooring zones of 10km each, which would be fine for those that have a home mooring in the plan area, as they would not be effected by the time restrictions, but those visiting from other areas as well as CC's would be forced to rush any visit they were planning to that river or pay the overstay fines of £20 per day if pre booked, £40 per day if notfor the priviledge of staying longer. (There is more to it than that, but I am trying to summarise)
The River Stort, is, I believe the most beautiful natural river, and to restrict anyones visit to just 14 days is ridiculous. This will have a detrimental effect on many of the local shops and Village facilities along the Stort who rely on passing boaters to supplement their income, many positively encouraging boaters. It will also vastly increase the amount of lock movements on the river, due to the 160 CC's having to use the Stort as part of their yearly 'time allowance' as it were to avoid paying the fines for staying an extra 14 days in a previously visited neigbourhood, increasing ware and tear on the locks and probably doing far more damage than good.
I could go on and on about why the proposals are wrong for all boaters, leisure or liveaboard, fishermen or walkers and have plenty of information to back up my arguments. My main worry is that if BW are allowed to bring in these local mooring strategies, they will be rolled out all over the country and EVERY boater will be effected by them in some way or another.
We need to tell BW to DO THEIR JOB, stop shirking their responsibilities and just ENFORCE the 14 day rule in the way they are supposed to.
Allowing them to implement these proposals will be to the detriment of all boaters and I for one am doing my best to stop it from happenning.

Maffi said...

Ronni. If you read the rules you simply cannot be a CCer on a single waterway. What you describe is bridge hopping (moving short distances to stay in a relatively small area for job or family reasons).

The whole point of CC status is the system or 'significant part of it'. That is what the 1995 Act is about.

We have people here that shuffle up and down the same 5/10 miles of canal and it can be a bloody pain for other boaters. The only saving grace is that they wont do the arm because they cant reverse.

Maffi said...

John this 'established' community is based on breaking the rules. They dont 'have' anything to protect other than that which they have cheated for.

It is BW's dereliction of duty that has allowed this situation to occur. BW are now changing the rules to accommodate rule breakers this will have a knock on effect all across the country.

Everything these people do will harm boaters so please don't say they are not doing anybody any harm.

They are not CCers as they claim to be. And by calling themselves The London Boaters they are setting themselves apart from the rest of the boating community, which may, of course, be their intention.

If they want to be CCers thats fine but there are rules. It is simple you cannot CC on any single waterway. If they they have a rivers only licence that does kind of limit them.

Next they will be asking for old age pensions and bus passes on the basis that they will be old one day.

Ronni said...

Hi Maffi,
I understand your point of view, I have spoken to many boaters with the same view. I feel that , unfortunately due to BW lack of policing the waterways the situation has been allowed to get worse, and boaters like yourself, who have been using the river for many many years would welcome these measures, I understand that. But I feel it would be for the wrong reasons and would not benefit the waterways as a whole.
And I agree, if you want to stay in one place, without moving for the whole time, get a mooring, or pay for the pleasure.
Personally, I would never have decribed myself as a bridge hopper, so am somewhat offended by the comment, but again, it shows that we all have a different interpratation of 'the rules'. I have never been in trouble with BW, never been told to move further, or been fined, I was told by BW to find 3 places I liked and move between them. I dont do that, I moor in over a dozen.
The rules we both feel we follow are BW's current interpretation of the 1995 act. Not the law.
My view is that the 14 day rule was not introduced to allow BW to force boaters to make 300 mile journeys every year, or restrict people to a maximum of 2 months in any 10km stretch per annum.
Your view may differ.

Anonymous said...

You're obsessed by your 'rules'. Look beyond them, work out what's relevant, and you'll see no harm is being done to anyone. Who are they 'cheating'?


Anonymous said...

Well said Ronni, Maffi you are a BIGOT. I am a LAW ABIDING BOATER with a CC license. I have cruised extensively on the national network and am now on the Lea looking for a mooring. I am neither wealthy nor retired and have to work to stay alive. My boat is my home and my only asset. I will fight to defend my freedom and that of my community until the bitter end. Your Obama/KKK analogy beggars belief. Are you a Racist? A Religious Zealot? Your comments attack a group of people with hundreds of members and thousands of supporters who all live within the law. Some may choose to flout the law, but you cannot condemn the majority on the basis of the actions of the few. I can't believe I'm wasting my precious time responding to your twaddle...

NeilR said...

I find the overly emotive "we will lose our homes" line being used in the press distasteful when so many people in the current economic climate are genuinely losing their homes. No-one on any of these boats will lose their home, they will simply have to either move it or pay what is only fair to keep it where it is.

The Crew: Mike, Mags and Poppy! said...


You are beginning to sound like an apologist for BW.... ;-)

The Poll Tax and many other "rules" such as NIMBY have been challenged because they were not implemented fairly. The war in Iraq was opposed because it did not have the will of the public. Rules are to make you subservient. If you have the spirit, then you challenge the rules, otherwise you're just another BW pay check provider.

But should never decry the spirit of those who have the backbone to stand up to what they feel is unfair, unjust or needs change. Don't toe the line, challenge whatever you feel is wrong. Such as money wasted on crap BW projects like lock bollards.

Maffi said...

So why is it right for these people to stand up for what they think is right yet I cant. This is a double standard if ever I saw one. I feel these people are being unfair.

If the so called london boaters want things to be different they shouldn't do it on the backs of those that do abide by the rules. Call your self something else.

The 1995 Act is about people who are in a position to 'do' the system. If you are not in a position to 'do ' the system then the 1995 Act does not apply to you. You are simply NOT a CCer. If you keep on calling your self a CCer then BW will, as they do now lump all CCers in the same pile and make life difficult for every one.

If BW is telling people to pick a few spots and move between them, (I have heard this happens here to) then they are derelict in their duty and are not fit to be in charge of the waterways.

It is wrong to wear the uniform of a police officer and decieve others.

It is wrong to wear the 'uniform of a vicar and decieve others.

It is wrong to sign a piece of paper saying you will keep moving around the system if you just do it to decieve others.

Maffi said...

Impersonating a Police officer
Impersonating a vicar
Lying to a government official
are all criminal offences.

Maffi said...

Anonymous you are very wrong. I am neither a Bigot nor a racist nor a religious zealot. The hundreds of members you mention do not live within the law. If they have signed a CC declaration and they are not CCing they have lied to a government official that makes them criminals. Your inference that I am wealthy retired and don’t have to work is wrong. My boat is my home and also my only asset. There are hundreds of genuine CCers who will be condemned by the action of those who will fight to protect what is theirs even though they cheated to get it.

And lets be serious if BW said OK you can all stay but your mooring fee will be £3000 a large number of you would fight that to. (The last mooring here with no services sold for £3005)

The Crew: Mike, Mags and Poppy! said...


"So why is it right for these people to stand up for what they think is right yet I cant. This is a double standard if ever I saw one. I feel these people are being unfair."

You agree with the "rules per se" However, the point is that the London boaters don't agree, What's more they collectivly wish to fight for what they feel is fair.

I can't see a problem with that and I would happily support them in their endevours.

Maffi said...

You make no sense. Because I agree with the rules I have no argument?

My whole point is these people are cheating the system and now the reason they are cheating is being closed. They are not fighting for something they believe in they are pissed off they will no longer be able to get a free ride. That is the crux of the problem. They were never CCers (with a few exceptions) and should be presented with bills for back mooring fees.

Why should they be allowed to break the law with impunity while all other boaters do their best to play the game.

That BWs tossers failed in their duty to ensure that these people were abiding by the rules in the first place beggars belief. Another tick in the incompetence box.

Maffi said...

"We need to tell BW to DO THEIR JOB, stop shirking their responsibilities and just ENFORCE the 14 day rule in the way they are supposed to." . . . Ronni.
Ronni I agree with you BW need to enforce the rules already in place, however, if they do that a lot of boats on the L&S with be lifted out of the water for failing to comply with the regs. I take it you want that?

Ronni said...

I am happy for BW to remove all abandoned boats, and to enforce the rules on those that do not move when people break the rules they have to take the consequence and if removal of their boat from the water is the consequence, so be it.
The problem is that, you, I and pretty much everybody else has a different opinion on how the current BW interpratation of the 14 day rule should be followed.
Whilst I may think that moving regularly in a 30 mile stretch of water should be sufficient, I dont think you would agree, as you have already described my movement pattern as a bridge hopper.
The 1995 Act does not specify 'a significant part of the network' it only specifies 'bona fide navigation'. Or put another way, The process or activity of accurately ascertaining one's position and planning and following a route. Sincerely and without the intention to deceive.
That is what I do every 2 weeks, when I arrive I am already planning my next stop, where I would like to see, what I would like to do, who I would like to visit or where I would like to return to. I dont work, I dont sign on, I have no family left alive and support myself financially. Sometimes I may only travel 2 miles, others I travel over 10. I plan to travel further field in the future but not just yet, I am happy where I am exploring the Lee and Stort, and honestly feel I am not breaking any rules with the way I interprate the rules.
Would you explain how the way you continuously cruise, is more genuine and lawful than the way I do, to give me something to compare to please?

Maffi said...

It is not about opinion, what one thinks is right. The Mooring Guidance was written very simply with explanations of what particular words meant. Possibly the only way to make it easier to understand is to increase the font size.

It is simple. The 1995 Act is an addition to the framework law that set BW up in the first place. BW are charged by the government to run the waterways. When CCers sign on as CCers they sign to say that they will obey the Mooring Guidance as presented to them by the legaly set body BW. If CCers dont like the rules then they are quite at liberty to get off the water. No one is stopping them. Under the Mooring Guide set down by the Government department responsible BW, it is impossible to CC on any one waterway. It really is not rocket science.

My first year aboard I cruised 1500 miles. For 9 weeks of that first year I was stuck behind various canal works. After that I wanted to stay put I got a mooring. I still have a mooring and I pay £2200 pa. My income is smaller that most pretend CCers. When this boating season is at an end I am off again to somewhere else, in fact lots of somewhere elses.

Andy said...

Maffi, I have debated this subject with you quite a few times now. As you well know, I have a Cc license and live aboard my boat but also work in the area. So like Ronni, I move every 14 days and as yet have never been asked by BW to do anything different. I think you are also well aware of my thoughts about BW and would agree with you fully on the levels of pure incompetence they display, especially at senior management level. They need to have an enforcement policy across the whole system, rather than their patrol officers using their own interpretation of the CC rules depending on where you are in the country.

That said, if I could find a mooring in the area I would happily pay for one. The fact is they just don't exist around here. You were certainly very lucky to find the one you have. However, I think I am correct in saying that your mooring is non residential, in fact the lease BW granted your landlord specifically prohibits live aboard boaters. So therefore, are you not guilty of braking the rules too? Albeit slightly different ones!

Maffi said...

Surely the point is if you want to buy a car and the garage in your street doesnt have any then you go somewhere else.

The ah yes but I have a job doesnt cut it given that the CCers signed a piece off paper that said holding down a job is not compatable with CCing. Many people commute some great distances to get to work.

If I have spent 2 of the last 6 weeks on my mooring I would be surprised.