Posted below are the notes of a meeting held at Milton Keynes on 3 November between the National Boating Associations and CRT.
It has taken a month to get these minutes out because there are some fundamental differences between the views of some of the associations. NABO agreed that these should be published on the proviso that we should each also be free to publish our views to accompany them.
Briefly these are as below :
NABO believes that it is solely up to CRT's judgement as to what represents bona fide navigating and whether they choose 10, 50, 500 miles is up to them and then for the courts to agree or otherwise. Bona fide navigating is bona fide navigating. You cannot tell a boater that last year he was complying with the requirements but this year they have changed and he is now no longer 'bona fide' navigating.
Any judgement made by CRT as to what constitutes 'bona fide' navigating needs to be backed up by their ability to enforce their decision (through the courts if need be) and this needs to be both consistent and fair.
However given that there is currently a pilot trial on part of the Kennet and Avon canal it would seem to make sense to us that this concludes (including any intended enforcement action) such that lessons can be learnt from this (positive and negative) before any further decisions are made.
Meeting of the Trust and National Boating organisations, 3 November 2014
Richard Parry, Dean Davies, Denise Yelland, Matthew Symonds – CRT
Les Etheridge, Gren Messham – IWA,
Paul Le Blique – AWCC
Jim Owen, Alan Wildman – RBOA
Mike Rodd, Mark Tizard – NABO
Steve Jay – ACC
1. Matters Arising
The new Welfare Officer was introduced and welcomed by all.
2. Defining Navigation and Enforcement
Discussions around the questions posed at the last meeting – specifically range of distance that should be acceptable to satisfy 'bona fide' navigation. Views included:
· Clarity and fairness were important goals
· The Trust as the navigation authority should take the lead on defining what it believes the law permits
· The existing trials (including the K&A interim plan) should be used to inform the next steps that the Trust takes
· Whilst different views were expressed about the overall range of distance that would be required to satisfy the condition to ‘navigate’ there was general agreement that the first stage should be a focussed effort on those boats that move very little. So the Trust might set out a minimum distance and state that if the distance navigated is below this then the boater would attract the attention of enforcement officers. Subsequently the Trust could tackle the question of defining what in their view theactual range would be needed for full compliance.
· The results of the Trust’s action should be communicated widely; and the Trust should also communicate clearly that it is up to the boater to satisfy the Trust that their movement is sufficient when a licence (without a home mooring) is renewed.
· Some felt that the Trust should do more to create better mooring space before stricter movement requirements were introduced.
In summary the meeting identified two clear problems 1) enforcement and 2) definition of an acceptable movement pattern and they should be tackled in that order.
There was discussion concerning the publication of a minimum acceptable cruising distance (reflecting the current capacity of the enforcement team). All recognised that this initial minimum distance should be increased as enforcement capability and boater compliance increased. There was disagreement over whether the Trust should, from the outset, declare its view about what cruising ‘range’ would constitute ‘full compliance’, which the Trust would move towards enforcing over the long term. Some felt that it would not be appropriate to set a longer ‘compliant’ distance figure now, though this might be a longer term goal. Both IWA and AWCC however believe that the compliant distance must be specified at the outset, and significantly longer than a cruising pattern confined to one local area, so that there is a clear understanding of what will be expected of boaters in the longer term. The parties agreed to discuss this further at the next meeting as it was recognised that a clear consistent message, promoted by all parties, was desirable.
3. Other issues
Other issues briefly discussed were:
· Is there a role for ‘economic’ measures for those areas where demand is greatest?
· How should the Trust respond to some of the recent media articles encouraging people to live on boats – could it communicate more with those putting boats in the water.
· Rented boats – what is and can be done about the growing rental of boats that are not licensed for this purpose.
4. Issues for the next meeting
· Continued discussion on enforcement/ distance.
· Review of the Visitor Mooring framework – nearing completion, communication strategy – CRT and the role of the associations.
· Vegetation and Dredging approach and availability of places to moor
· Discussion on what CRT sees as its duty to communicate to boaters (for example closures, maintenance, standards etc) and how boating organisations could assist with communication.
The meeting thanked Dean Davies for the work he has done as interim head of customer services. Dean moves into a new role heading the Trust’s Direct Service construction teams from 1 January.