Mark Tizard reports on a meeting that was held at CRT’s Offices on 10th September between Sally Ash (Head of Boating), Denise Yelland (Head of Enforcement), Damian Kemp (Communications Manager) and NABO Council representatives, Mark Tizard and Mike Rodd.
The following topics were covered:
A very useful discussion was led by Denise on the challenges and long-term objectives, and we were broadly in agreement with her views and objectives. It was agreed that there wasn't really an overstaying problem now on visitor moorings as the word had got out among boaters that this would lead to an immediate focus of the enforcement team. Denise described the analysis of a rolling 6-month sample of boats that had been sighted at least four times and not moved 5 km in that period and which were highlighted for attention. She mentioned that CRT is investigating moving from this ‘5 km’ approach to the number of ‘places’, but this review is ongoing and no decision has been made. Denise reported that there are currently some 700 boats that had not moved 5 km in the last six months (March to August). She also stated that the Trust isn’t acknowledging that any cruising beyond 5 km is considered as acceptable (i.e. 6 km over a six-month period isn’t ‘continuous cruising’) but it has to draw the line somewhere so that it can focus its efforts on those moving the least.
There are also approximately 70 new continuous cruising boaters every month (the number with home moorings remains broadly the same). Of considerable concern to the Trust is that a significant number of these new boaters were not moving 5 km, despite the new guidance and the attempts being made to ensure that they were aware of the requirements to move.
Denise confirmed that it was the Trust’s intention to start refusing to relicense a boat as a continuous cruiser, if it is identified as not having moved the required amount over the first 6 month period (initially 5 km but this distance would then be expanded), unless the boater could demonstrate having a home mooring. Once a licence was refused it normally took about 10 weeks to get through the Section 8 process, so there was time during this period for boaters to demonstrate that they had found and paid for a mooring to enable them to remain on Trust waters. The Trust’s legal advice has shown that this approach of refusing to relicense a boat was legally enforceable. Sally asked if we could publish the relevant CRT link for prospective boaters (http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/boating/mooring/want-to-be-a-continuous-cruiser).
Mike reported that many people involved with the K&A were unhappy with the recently released consultation document, which was poorly structured, repetitive and confusing. The first section was seeking support (or otherwise) for the specific recommendations of the Moorings Sub-Group, and the second section, seemingly, was seeking views on aspects which had either not been discussed in full by the Sub-Group or, indeed, rejected by it. There were also proposals that seemed to conflict with work coming out elsewhere, especially the SE consultation. Sally reported that the Trust had little control over the content and format of the consultation, and what had been produced was as the Local Partnership wished it to be. Mike responded that while he understood this, in the end it was a Trust consultation and most responders were not aware of the Partnership. It was agreed that we should ask NABO members to add their views, and there was space for additional comments under the questions in the consultation document.
Roving Mooring Permits:
The small pilot exercise in the London area is to go ahead and the Trust asked that NABO keeps the specific details confidential until they are published on the Trust’s website shortly. We have respected this request. Boaters who do not have a RMP will still be able to freely moor within the defined RMP cruising area.
SE Visitor Moorings:
Mark shared a graph of use of visitor moorings at Stoke Bruerne showing that there was little need for the new regulations. Sally said that the plans had gone well and that no boats had been charged. A survey was going to be sent to boaters who had stayed on the moorings asking for their views, the results of which will be publicly available. The restrictions would be lifted in the winter as promised at the workshop. Mark suggested that before they changed the other moorings, a study a bit like that at Stoke Bruerne should be carried out. Sally said that they did not have the resources to do this. Denise understood the problem and talked about having a ‘moorings full’ button or similar on the website. We felt that she would be open to any suggestions to help her understand the problem/demand. Damian mentioned that he and Sally had done a lot of soul-searching after this consultation exercise and further consultation via a workshop was planned, probably in November, to look at other visitor moorings and review feedback on the initial implementation.
Sally said that these were defined as moorings in popular areas where stays of less than 14 days were appropriate. Sally mentioned that, due to funding available from external sources, some visitor moorings had been established in inappropriate places. We did not have time to discuss plans for additional moorings
Long Term Moorings(LTMs):
Sally mentioned that there were no plans for more LTMs, apart from some areas in London. It was important to appreciate that the establishment of LTMs could be seen to be increasing the competition with marinas, many of which were struggling to fill places.
Details of winter mooring arrangements have been published on the Trust’s website. In principle, these will only be available to boaters who the Trust identified as having a continuous cruiser licence on 1st June 2013. The Trust is reviewing future winter mooring arrangements and shared some ideas with us, but as they are still under review we have respected their request not to publish details until the future policy has been determined.
Sally confirmed that the hire industry was really suffering and she agreed with the NABO Council members’ observation that there were, overall, fewer boat movements over the past year.
Damian had been asked by some National Advisory Group members to organise quarterly meetings with all boater’s associations. We said this was a good idea and Sally wondered if individual meetings were necessary, as it requires much additional work in preparing for a meeting. Our feelings are that individual meetings are still important if there is going to be real communication.
From a NABO perspective this was a robust but very constructive meeting, where we were able to get a clearer view of some of the Trust’s future plans. We hope that we can continue a regular dialogue and that the Trust will proactively engage with NABO when planning further changes that affect boaters. Specific NABO views on the SE visitor moorings and the Kennet & Avon consultation are contained elsewhere in this issue.