Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bath Valley boaters protest against BW plans

by Bob Naylor

The unveiling of the sundial to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bath was seen as an appropriate and timely occasion to remind British Waterways of the important role that people living on boats have always played in the life of the canals since the birth of the canal system — and that they continue to be an important part of the culture and colour of the canal today.

Boaters from the Bath Valley joined with other users of the canal to celebrate its bi-centenary on Saturday and during the unveiling ceremony they held a quiet, polite and dignified protest at what they see as an unreasonable approach by British Waterways to 'continuously cruising' boaters.

They claim that BW's plans to impose a new mooring strategy on the K&A that will put them in the impossible position of having to choose to travel away from their jobs, children's schools and healthcare or risk being made homeless and losing their boat — which for many is their only asset.

Panda Rainabow talks to Sarah Bevan at the event.
BW have all the legal powers they need already say boaters
Panda Rainbow said, "We are calling for BW to use it's current legal powers to regulate mooring by enforcing the 14-day rule. We do not understand why BW wish to invent and enforce new rules which are not contained in its
legal powers, rather than use the existing law, which we are prepared to comply with."

She continued, "If boaters obey the BW's own new rules that they are imposing they will have to travel away from their jobs or their childrens’ schools — they could be forced to choose between giving up their jobs and taking their children out of school — or giving up their homes and having to register as homeless.

"If boat dwellers do not comply with these rules that make it impossible for them to keep their jobs or send their children to school then BW is likely to terminate their boat licence. 

BW rules go beyond their legal powers
And if a boat does not have a licence — then BW has the legal power to seize that boat. So not
only would they become homeless, they would lose the only asset that they have when BW take their boat away for not complying with rules that are beyond what the law requires.

At the event on Saturday BANES Chairman Sarah Bevan spoke to the demonstrators and she has arranged to meet them to learn more about the problems they are facing.

A dignified protest about BW's plans.

If you want to learn more about the views of boaters go to their website at: 

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