K&A Mooring Trial
Geoffrey Rogerson provides an update
Earlier this year the K&A Canal Partnership, after various consultations and deliberations, came up with the K&A voluntary Mooring Trial. The object was to encourage the movement of boats and the gist of it was to divide the canal between Bath and Devizes into neighbourhoods. The intention was not to define ‘place’ but to show that moving only a boat length, from one side of a bridge to the other, or even 100 yards, was definitely not moving to another place. The other requirement was that boats should move through six of the neighbourhoods in three months and through ten of them in an even manner in the year, constituting a distance moved of at least 20km.
Having initially taken over the plan, CRT stated that any boat not moving through the required six neighbourhoods would be subject to enforcement. However Richard Parry accepted that boaters ‘may’ be subject to enforcement as each case has to be judged individually.
Following the first three months of the trial, statistics have now been produced showing details of boat monitoring throughout this period. It is somewhat disappointing that 90% of boaters have not conformed to the six neighbourhoods required. Still, it is early days and there has been movement. We at NABO are hoping that the second three months will show an improvement, particularly as I understand that an additional enforcement officer is now available. At the moment, monitoring is apparently daily on three or four of the busy visitor moorings and the rest of the towpath is monitored once every 14 days. This has been shown to be totally inadequate and has resulted in numerous complaints from boaters, claiming the letters they have received do not reflect their movements. I would repeat that it is still early days and we will have to wait until the end of next April to see whether the K&A plan has been successful. Richard Parry has asked the various boating organisations to come up with their own views as to what constitutes bona fide navigation. However, NABO’s view is that it is not for us to pronounce on this, but for the courts to decide. At the moment it appears that there have been some 18 boats that have been warned three and even four times for not moving enough. One assumes that they are now the subject of the enforcement process and unless they respond they will eventually end up in court. This ultimately is the only way that distance can be defined, following the judgement that moving ten miles between Bath and Bradford on Avon did not constitute bona fide navigation. It is all very well for the various boating organisations to put forward their ideas, which tend to be both draconian and completely unrealistic, both in distance of travel required and in enforceability. If the K&A plan doesn’t work then these other suggestions are academic. The law cannot be changed by consensus but only by the courts or Parliament.
P.S. The latest statistics from CRT covering the first six months of the K&A mooring plan seem difficult to interpret. The CRT report states: in summary, between 1st May and 31st October, 169 boats have attracted the attention of the enforcement officer for not complying with the K&A Local Plan (see Table).
Table. Enforcement action taken in the first six months of the local plan.
Boats received pre-enforcement warning letter (pre-CC1)
Boats received first enforcement letter (CC1)
Boats received second enforcement letter (CC2)
Boats received pre-CC1 letter but have now secured a home mooring
Boats received a pre-CC1 letter but have now taken a winter mooring
Boats received a pre-CC1 letter but have since been sighted outside of the Local Plan area
Boats received a pre-CC1 but have not had further enforcement action
Between 1st August and 21st October, 109 boats were identified that did not move between two or more sightings. The owners have been contacted by text, email or phone to remind them to move, or to contact the Trust if there is a reason why they cannot move.
· 62 have been contacted once
· 21 have been contacted twice
· 11 have been contacted three times
· 15 have been contacted on 4+ occasions
All of the boats that have received multiple reminders are already in the enforcement process.