A meeting was held between ACC, AWCC, RBOA, IWA and NABO on Monday 31st March 2014 to discuss short stay mooring proposals being explored by CRT. This meeting preceded a subsequent meeting on these and related subjects held with CRT, the notes of which will be published when available.
Notes taken by Lucy Smith of ACC and agreed as an accurate note by the other members present
· Alan Wildman – RBOA
· Les Etheridge & Paul Roper – IWA
· Mike Rodd & Mark Tizard – NABO
· Steve Jenkins and Lucy Smith – ACC
· Paul Le Blique – AWCC
Why are we here?– To discuss short stay towpath mooring proposals (as per Sally’s paper) and the link with CRT enforcement. Nominally to review the paper provided by Sally Ash (Short Stay Towpath Moorings – Discussion Guide for National Boating Organisations for 31/3/13) but the document was not viewed during the discussions, instead a wider discussion took place (as summarised below) with various viewpoints expressed and points of consensus summarised on Page 4.
There are legal issues and discussions ongoing with CRT (Jackie Lewis & Richard Parry at CRT legal) and these will be published in next NABO news with NABO challenging whether no return rules, or limits of stays per month on 48 hour or 7 day mooring under the current legislation. At this legal meeting the following was agreed:
1. NABO and CRT would agree to disagree – CRT think they can bring in these restrictions but are less certain than they were as to whether it was practical to do so.
2. CRT are less sure if these restrictions are needed if other options such as breasting up are supported locally.
NABO raised issues over penalty charge vs service charge. If improved facilities (e.g. electric points) some may be willing to pay a charge for the service they receive. It is accepted by CRT that they cannot “fine” a boater for overstaying etc. but can levy a “service charge”, but have to be able to justify the amount to be paid.
A charge can only be paid if a mechanism is introduced to enable it to be paid e.g. phone number to call and system to pay charge.
Issues about not creating a “can pay will pay” tiered system on the canals.
There is recognition amongst all organisations that there are some local congestion issues.
But it was generally understood to be an over-estimate of congestion issues based on perceptions and skewing by some local issues e.g. seasonal hire boat fleets in Bath and in some of these instances, no amount of rules or regulations will make a difference. May have to accept some seasonal local congestion issues as a consequence of general boating activities.
The problem is sometimes localised in terms of locations and dates (e.g. generally on a Friday and Monday night when hire boats involved, not rest of the week/year outside of the hire season).
Paul Roper of IWA raised Thrupp example and how it used to be hard to moor at any time but now that the 48 hour rules have been introduced and brought increased churn it is possible to moor.
Stoke Bruerne 48 moorings also discussed and how these had resulted in very few boats mooring over both peak and off-season (Mark Tizard of NABO has passed through here during a number of times of year and seen very few boats) which has had a negative impact on local businesses who were originally the ones in favour of the restriction (restrictions were originally meant to be lifted during the “off” season but this never happened). Note that Paul Le Blique visited the Stoke Bruerne moorings on the way back from this meeting and noted there were 14 boats at the top pound visitor moorings, most with crew on board although some of these boats are understood to be transiting to Cavalcade.
Local Groups have historically been set up to address local concerns – role of the WW partnerships less clear. E.g. Original K&A group was successful, widely represented but then abandoned by BW. This K&A group defined place not the subsequent partnership un-representative group.
A general feeling was that there is a need to involve and represent boaters locally via NAG not partnerships.
The various associations round the table could provide representation (2 members) from their groups for local groups but need to consider how boaters who are not part of associations are represented. Need a vote to get elected, could go through CRT.
Broad discussion on different types of boats on canals acknowledging it is not always clear-cut:
· Unoccupied boats moored on the canals (many have left marinas) – an increasing issue
· Continuous Cruisers
· Holiday/Weekend boaters (in marina/on mooring) who have their favourite spots.
· Hire Boaters
· Boat clubs – often cruise on mass
· Non-compliant boaters (NCB)
In some instances, more visitor moorings in remote locations could be provided because not everyone wants to moor in a town centre or similar but want decent moorings.
All associations want to see evidence of robust consistent enforcement.
Pragmatic targeted approach to enforcement required.
Self-regulation within boating community has a part to play.
Visible patrol notices or similar get boats moving.Associations would like to see data on patrol notices issued. Patrol notices are part of the enforcement process – perception – real or otherwise (i.e. conspiracy) that CRT are monitoring boats and non-compliant boaters but not enforcing therefore not discouraging poor behaviour therefore indirectly influencing the evidence to support their argument. Example of Milton Keynes to Rickmansworth cited where few patrol notices have been issued but many enforcement issues exist.
Boater relations are key – education, encouragement.
It is recognised that there are costs associated with enforcement and that there is not enough money for enforcement.
Issue with boats leaving marinas (for good) and mooring on cut but still declared as having a home mooring – obtain data from marina when boat leaves mooring. Not subject to enforcement but should be.
Breasting up should become the norm on in-demand Visitor Moorings to manage capacity. This might also serve to also serve to move on the non-compliant boater who would not want someone mooring up.
Kept coming back to evidence – is there a need? Where are the problems? What/where is the evidence? Anecdotal? Factual?
What is happening with CRT evidence – why is it not shared with associations?
Where is the evidence? Denise Yelland has reported that there is no real issue with non-compliant boaters on Visitor Moorings – therefore why do we need change/regulation?
All associations agreed that CRT’s priority should be to provide evidence and undertaken sustained consistent enforcement before making any system wide changes.
The IWA felt that if CRT had well advanced plans for some new VM initiative then they wouldn’t necessarily object to it going ahead depending on what it was.
The ACC, NABO and RBOA believed that CRT should NOT do anything with Visitor Moorings this year but instead issue gather evidence and undertake robust consistent enforcement including of non-compliant boaters.
The IWA and AWCC believed that action on data collecting and visitor mooring changes would be considered as appropriate this year.
K&A enforcement example cited that despite negative PR for CRT it got boats moving.
Pilots/interim solutions being discussed or in place – K&A and Paddington Basin/Little Venice – any others?
Suggest pilot promotion of breasting up in honey pot locations/visitor moorings (as already becoming common practice in central London).
Welford Arm – capacity issues there but not because of non-compliant boaters but because of boat numbers. This is a local problem and requires a local decision.
Foxton – big problem with capacity in the summer. Some problem boaters (perpetual overstayers) moved off VMs reducing the problem on the VM.
Discussion on idea of a reporting system for boaters – reporting congestion (could not moor there, managed to moor there, good mooring there, could not access bank there etc.) not about ratting on fellow boaters (other routes should exist for this).
Paul from AWCC:
* Lots of today’s discussions reflect what was discussed at last week’s NAG meeting.
* History of VM – originally established by local waterway managers where there was something to visit e.g. pub, site of interest, relatively few to start with. Anywhere else where a boat can moor and easily put pins in is a casual mooring. Paul feels that the “purity” of VMs need to be revived. The NAG view is that the definition of a mooring needs to be redefined and the AWCC shares this view.
* Historically there has been a migration of boats towards the South resulting in congestion in certain areas; as a consequence, there is now an increasing number of boaters visiting the North.
* Paul suggested that the subject of congestion in certain areas would be appropriate for the follow up meeting with CRT.
Hire boats – have to be tolerated/accommodated at peak seasons but should be educated that they may have to breast up at popular visitor moorings.
Enforcement/Encouragement/Education/Evidence is key.
Parallels with parking controls working because of robust enforcement
Example of inaccessible casual moorings between Cosgrove and Stoke Bruerne because of vegetation and maintenance issues causing concerns. If address maintenance issues (spot dredging, vegetation management) then there would be no need for more visitor moorings as more boaters could moor at casual moorings.
Boaters expectations have changed over the years.
Some holiday/hire boaters may not be aware that can moor away from VMs.
There are now 10k more boats licensed on the system than 10 years ago, many in marinas, this increases pressure on the system at peak times. Some aspects of this capacity issues may not be addressable (breast up or moor somewhere else) and indeed it may not be desirable or affordable to address these issues to cater to this season short term peak.
Need a nationwide policy/framework with localism and local mechanism involving boaters for any locally required interpretation (based on evidence).
Recognition and acceptance that boaters increasingly need to share the waterways with other users (cyclists, walkers fishermen). Some feeling that where there is pressure on VM, leaving space for fishermen was not necessarily a priority or practical e.g. leave a space for fisherman, another boat leaves and a longer one goes in. Acknowledging that fishermen like fishing near boats.
NABO, the RBOA and the ACC believed and agreed that there should be no changes to VM across the network this year and that evidence should be obtained and used and a period of concerted consistent enforcement beundertaken first.
The AWCC and IWA believed and agreed that changes should be made for the impending boating season.
SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS– all attendees at the meeting agreed that the various associations had agreed the following during the meeting:
· Enforcement essential – pragmatic, targeted and visible enforcement.
· Evidence required (including to be made available to associations) before any decisions are made. While the organisations agreed that some local changes might be made for the impending boating season where evidence of congestion is or becomes available (from CRT or the boating app), it was noted that no evidence was available at this (or the subsequent CRT) meeting. There is a role for the associations, their members and other boaters to provide evidence of congestion, good moorings etc. via email/text reporting system to supplement CRTs evidence & enable limited resources to be targeted/improvements/increased capacity or perhaps restrictions at affected moorings where evidence exists.
· Localism –decisions can only be made locally, via the NAG process rather than partnerships. Need consistent national framework above this.
· Education is important – breast up, courtesy, evidence that this has worked in some locations e.g. Honey Street, Skipton. Need to encourage boaters to move and reinforce the courtesies of boating.
· Maintenance of non-VM (casual) moorings essential to enable other options to the VM.