Friday, 9 March 2012

Richmond Council Bullies

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRuT) is experiencing numerous problems with boats mooring without permission along the banks of the River Thames on land owned by the local authority. The problem of unauthorised mooring on Council land has persisted over several years, but has now increased significantly with around 15-25 vessels usually moored on one small stretch of riverbank at any one time. Most of the boats effectively use the riverbanks as permanent or semi-permanent moorings.

Despite repeated requests by the Council's officers, most of the boat owners refuse to leave and many boats remain moored on the riverbanks for several months at a time. The Council is now proposing to introduce a new byelaw to suppress the nuisances and encourage the boat owners to stop mooring their boats along land belonging to the Council.

A breach of a byelaw is a criminal offence which can be prosecuted in the Magistrates' Court. The byelaw, if implemented, would make it an offence to moor any boat on any part of the riverbank owned by the local authority.

LBRuT would like to ask for your comments in relation to the proposed new byelaw. The timeframe for this consultation will be for 12 weeks running from Monday 16th January 2012 to Friday 6th April 2012. You can submit your comment via letter or via email. Please title your response 'Proposed byelaw by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames to prevent and suppress the nuisance of unauthorised mooring'

My response

Dear Sir

With reference to the mooring consultation I would to ask exactly what bit of land are you talking about? The council doesn't morally own the land they are simply the custodians. You can't go around making laws just because you don't like what someone is doing. Just mooring a boat is not illegal so why do you propose to make it so? Unmooring a boat without the owners permission is illegal which is why you haven’t done this up to now. So the law is not on your side. Making this law will make you no better than a playground bully. At least these people are not beating up old ladies or raping young women. They are minding their own business, so why do you want to go stamping around in big boots making new laws?

There are so many questions you need to answer first.

I suppose the first question is why shouldn't they moor there? (Try to come up with an answer that isn't "because we own it.")

Where else would you moor a boat other than at the waters edge?

Exactly what are the problems the boaters are causing? (You need to lay them out so everyone knows why this is a problem.)

Are there any low cost marinas where they could moor instead?

What disadvantages are there to having the boaters mooring where they do?

Are they spoiling the view? (this is purely subjective and should not sway any decision)

What will the council actually gain by not having them there?

What will the council actually lose by having them there?

If you stop them mooring will that also stop any visiting boats from coming and spending money?

Are they actually doing any harm?

What can you do with the bank if you move them on?

What will you do with the bank if you move them on? (two different questions)

Are they scruffy boats?

Are you prejudiced because of this?

If you had 20 boats there worth half a million quid each would you still be making a law?

If the council chief exec moored his boat there would you be making laws to stop him?

When you can answer all these questions satisfactory then you may have a case for a new law, but until such time what is the point of being so selfish? Instead of making yet another negative law why not set it up as an official mooring, charge them to moor there and charge them council tax.Twenty boats should be good for £3k a year plus a Band 'A' council tax each. Do this and you will probably find they will go elsewhere.

Maffi Oxford

2 comments:

Clive Scoggins said...

Maffi,

I really enjoy reading your blog and support your campaigning for sensible waterways users and litter-free waterways. Therefore I felt I should respond to your post on LBRuT's consultation above with a bit of local info.

Whilst I don't agree with Richmond Council's stance on many issues, their consultation above is at least based on a reasonable objective.

Their proposals are in response to a long-term problem with a limited number of boat owners who have moored for many months on a specific stretch of the River Thames at Hampton, that should be for short term moorings only.

These boat owners have turned what was once a very nice section of river bank into an eyesore, with a serious amount of litter and other detritus from their boats. There have also been reports of people being intimidated by these boat owners when walking along this section of public river bank.

Repeated attempts to get these boat owners to cease this behaviour have I believe not been helped by the Environment Agency refusing to police moorings in this area as the bank is indeed owned (or more correctly, maintained) by the Council.

I completely agree that trying to make the mooring of boats on any section of council-maintained river bank an offence is completely over the top, and I hope that a more sensible option arises from the consultation process, which allows the Council to return this section of river bank back to it's previous status of a public open space that can be enjoyed by everyone without let or hindrance, or litter.

Regards

Clive, Hampton

Maffi said...

Thank you for that Clive. This is information that should have been put in the consultation document. Currently it reads that they just dont want people mooring there, hence my diatribe. However my questions still stand as does my solution. I am assuming the questions will all be answered in the negative.

Are they plastic boats?

I am sure there are other laws that can be used to get shot of them. Licence evasion, trespass etc.

Thank you for the information I might use it for a post if that s ok with you?