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

Coronavirus crisis - 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 government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • 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.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, 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 special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

Government:

triangleFighting for over 250 jobs that are under threat at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Photo M Kamish

Travel:

triangleCall for an increase in PIP due to Covid-19

Homes:

triangleTV: Ross Kemp - Living with Forced Out Families

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

23/7/20

Barking

Barking: Anger at landlord's inaction after park stabbing

22/7/20

Unison

Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary

22/7/20

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Time to relaunch TUSC

22/7/20

Coronavirus

Mandatory masks in shops law

22/7/20

Tower Hamlets

Hugely significant council workers' strike continues

22/7/20

Redundancies

Debenhams: Fighting closures and redundancies

22/7/20

Trans rights

Bristol trans rights protest

22/7/20

Transport

Online rally: Fight the London transport funding cuts!

22/7/20

Health and safety

Continue the fight to protect safety

20/7/20

Equity

Trade unionists and artists stand with Maxine Peake

20/7/20

Unite

United Left general secretary hustings shows widest debate needed for left in Unite

15/7/20

PCS

PCS executive majority cancels union democracy

15/7/20

Tower Hamlets

Council workers strike back

15/7/20

Hillingdon

Hillingdon Hospital corona outbreak: workforce not to blame

15/7/20

Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party

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: info@socialistparty.org.uk

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: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999