CRT’s London strategy – NABO’s response

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In this paper, NABO is responding to CRT’s recent consultation and Zoom meetings, seeking suggestions from boaters to further address congestion, principally in the London area.

For several years, CRT sought views via the Boater Relationship Group and subsequently, when this collapsed, it facilitated meetings that resulted in the publication of its London Strategy document in June 2018. This document outlined the actions that CRT would take to address congestion in London.

We are concerned that CRT is seeking to repeat this exercise without first implementing a significant number of the promised outcomes. Surely, after all the effort that went into the 2018 strategy document, it would make sense to implement it in full and then carry out a review of where the strategy had worked or failed, before seeking to repeat the exercise. By CRT’s own figures, the numbers of boats have not risen substantially since the strategy was published. The effects of the current pandemic have seen boats spread out further and the longer-term implications are as yet unclear.

Turning to some of the agreed actions, these included:

  1. More general towpath mooring and limited offside moorings outside the Regent’s Canal area;
  2. Increase the number of short-stay visitor moorings;
  3. Increase monitoring and management of towpath and visitor moorings;
  4. Major improvements to facilities:

A key outcome was improved information and communication for boaters. The reality, sadly, is that the London boating manager has left and not been replaced, and the information flow between CRT and London boaters is almost non-existent. There has been one update since the London Strategy document was published. Even when the current consultation was launched, no explanation was given of how much of the 2018 Strategy had been implemented and the reasons for any delay. It’s hardly surprising that London boaters are disengaged and the attendance of boaters at the Zoom meetings was so poor. Even these low numbers were often as a result of boaters themselves using social media to suggest that others attend.


There has been little visible or published evidence of increased management of towpath and visitor moorings, nor indeed of addressing the problems of boats mooring on lock landings or at service blocks. This is despite it being relatively easy to identify the relatively small number of boaters who blatantly ignore any regulations and overstay, and against whom no visible action is apparently being taken.


As can be seen from the above, the timing of the current consultation seems to be based more on PR perception and politics within CRT than on evidence of changes on the ground. Perhaps it was influenced by the comment of the facilitator on the Zoom meeting that: “the last Tim and Pru programme made London look bad as they had to cruise late into the day to find somewhere not very nice to moor”.


The fact that London hosts a busy and diverse range of boats, people and ages is a good thing and should be celebrated. It is exactly what CRT needs to replicate elsewhere. In applying for a renewal of its grant, CRT should promote this diversity, both on and off the water. There is nothing from CRT to suggest an optimum number of boats in the London area that any changes are seeking to achieve.


Notwithstanding the above, we appreciate that congestion exists in central London. However, it needs to be recognised that, from a boater’s perspective, the London area is effectively from Rickmansworth to Hertford. Any changes proposed to the Regent’s Canal area need to take the knock-on effect for other areas into account.


From NABO’s perspective, the available options are limited. We would suggest: