Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26057

Posted on 29 August 2017 at 16:52 GMT

Moving a narrowboat

Moving a narrowboat   (Click to enlarge)

Liveaboard boaters being forced off the waterways

Ellen Kenyon Peers

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) last year renewed its suggestion for a 1,500% increase in miles that continuous cruisers (people without a home mooring) would be expected to travel in order to be able to renew their waterways licence. There are over 35,000 licensed boats on the canals and rivers - more than at the peak of canal use during the industrial revolution - and over 5,000 of these are without a home mooring.

Although the law simply states that boats without a mooring must be 'genuinely navigating', the enforcement agency, the Canal and River Trust (CRT), has imposed distances of 15-20 miles to be covered over the duration of a 6 or 12 month licence (although it is believed that the last month of cruising does not contribute to this total). The IWA would like this figure to increase to 300 miles, despite there being no legal basis for this.

The UK-wide housing crisis has led to an increase in the number of boats on the canals as more and more people turn to life on the water as an alternative to astronomically high private rents and the huge deposits now required to get a mortgage agreement. However, this has resulted in increasing pressure being put on facilities for boaters.

Bizarrely, among the measures taken by the CRT to deal with this has been the removal of already over-burdened resources previously available to boaters - including removing 40% of litter bins in a bid to 'decrease' rubbish left on the towpath. This backwards logic is typical of the CRT, a charity which pays its head, Richard Parry, £188,600 a year, while mooring rangers and lock keepers are increasingly advertised as 'volunteer' positions.

Government cuts

The overall upkeep of the waterways has faced cuts year after year. When managed by the publically owned British Waterways (BW), the annual grant given to BW by the government reached £76.6 million in 2003-04. This was reduced to £58.9 million by 2010-11, the year prior to privatisation - the 2012 handing over to the CRT.

The last accounts of the CRT show a government grant now down to £49.6 million. The CRT supplements the grant by collecting hundreds of pounds a year from every licence fee payer, in addition to receiving donations from benefactors and members of the public, plus property and investment income.

The National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA), which represents itinerant liveaboard boaters, has already rejected proposals by the CRT to increase licence fees and has stated that the CRT's recent report on the issue was "shambolic" as it "unfairly blames boaters without home moorings for congestion". It is clear that both the CRT and the IWA would like the waterways to be reserved for 'leisure boaters' who holiday on the canal, rather than people whose boat is their permanent home - many of whom live in poverty as statistics show.

Liveaboards include key workers such as teachers and nurses who have been forced out of 'traditional' homes on land due to low wages. It is clear that expecting these people to travel ever greater distances every year outside their home area would impact badly on public services. It is also very damaging for liveaboard children who need to be near their school and community.

If continuous cruisers don't move often enough and far enough, they firstly have their licence period restricted (with a higher monthly licence cost a consequence of this) and ultimately they face having their boat confiscated.

'Get a home mooring' is the advice of the CRT to people who need or want to stay in one area, but in parts of the country like London, or on the Kennet and Avon canal near Bristol, there are no affordable long-term moorings available.

It is obvious that boating organisations like the IWA and CRT are attempting to force boaters off the waterways who cannot afford - or even find - long-term moorings. There is also an arrogant and dismissive attitude shown towards liveaboards for daring to live in a way that is viewed in establishment circles as harming capitalism's notions of civility and society.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

Waterways:

triangleBritain's waterways choked with a 'chemical cocktail'

Government:

triangleTube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

Travel:

triangleTories student 'evacuation' plan won't work

Homes:

triangleNews in brief

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/2/22

Cardiff

Restore Cardiff's slashed services

23/2/22

Pay

Just Eat couriers continue action to fight pay cut

23/2/22

UCU

University workers continue strike against bosses' attacks

23/2/22

London

Tube workers strike in defence of pay, pensions and conditions

23/2/22

Students

Workers and students unite and fight

23/2/22

Fees

Fighting fees and marketisation after 2 March student walkout

23/2/22

Brighton

Brighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Surrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate

23/2/22

Newham

Newham City Farm - closed with no consultation

23/2/22

Women

London Socialist Party women's meeting

23/2/22

Socialist

1 March: Socialist Party new website launch

23/2/22

Coventry

Coventry bin strikers lobby strike-breaking Labour council

23/2/22

Strike

Scunny scaffs action forces bosses to the table

23/2/22

Usdaw

Usdaw: 'Reinstate Max' week of action

23/2/22

Anti-cuts

Trade union support for standing anti-cuts election candidates

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2022

May 2022

April 2022

March 2022

February 2022

January 2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999