National Inland Navigation Forum (NINF) meeting: 17th October 2020

A Zoom-based meeting of this valuable forum brought together representatives of NABO, RBOA, CBOA, DBA,TBA, HNBC and the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson.

As always, the meeting gave us an opportunity to share our views on a number of key issues. Being largely London focused, the first discussion related to CRT’s request for input on the handling of the over-populated situation on the London waterways and it was agreed that the problem in London (and elsewhere on the system) was folk who had no interest in the waterways buying boats to live on. Adding to the problem was the difficulty of turning existing moorings into residential moorings or indeed in creating new ones, and it was mentioned that the existing planning regulations needed to be addressed. It was noted that there were many off-line locations available which could be used to provide residential moorings especially along the main line of the Grand Union. RBOA agreed to provide a paper on the subject to circulate to members, and the General Secretary will discuss the situation with the EA and CRT.

The next major issue was the (so-called) consultation by CRT on proposals to change the Terms & Conditions of private boater licences. It was agreed that proposals were badly written, unclear, rather confusing, and could well contravene the requirements of the Waterways Act. NABO advised that they were taking legal advice. All members were asked to share their views.

The next issue related to the appointment of District Enforcement, a car parking company, to enforce mooring overstaying on the Thames. Clearly, the EA and most boaters, wanted to get boat owners to comply with the mooring regulations – however DE have a stated aim to essentially increase fines for overstaying craft – this being their prime income generating mechanism. It was noted that EA have not consulted any users on the appointment. NABO and others would raise the issues at the next Thames User Group Meeting.

Other matters discussed included the massive increase in canoes etc and it was noted that there seems to be a problem with so many of the new users being unaware of the rules which apply to them or indeed the dangers of using tunnels etc. The issues of Shared Ownership craft which were which were being rented out, for example, via Airbnb, was also discussed. The General Secretary would raise this issue with Richard Parry. The question of the red diesel situation was raised and HMRC emphasised how this could have major impacts on their vessels.

Overall, another excellent meeting!

Mike Rodd