Letters to The Floater

April 2018 - Letters to the editor are a time-honoured feature of local and national newspapers – a natural home for the disgruntled and those who want to draw attention to issues others may not have noticed.

If you have a 'Disgusted of Cheltenham' lurking within, then email the editor – editor@thefloater.org – and we will run a collection of your missives when there are enough of them or when we need to fill some space.

We will give priority to the controversial, the funny and the well-written.

You need to supply a name and email address and we will normally publish the letter with your name but not your email. You are welcome to attach pictures if you think they ilustrate your point. The editor reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length.

Seizure of pensioners boat 'shows C&RT safegarding failure'


Canal & River Trust seized the boat of a 67 year old pensioner yesterday (27th March 2018), leaving the man and his dog homeless. The charity towed the man's home away from the River Lea in East London. The boat is likely to be destroyed.

Canal & River Trust is currently attempting to re-brand itself as an organisation promoting well-being. However this incident demonstrates the charity's total failure to safeguard the well-being of vulnerable boat dwellers. In contrast, the boating community in London have rallied round to lend another boat for the evicted pensioner to stay on temporarily; found storage space for his tools; and started an online appeal to buy him another boat.

The evicted boater, known as 'Slow Tony', is described as a “mechanical wizard” who has helped many other boaters with repairs and maintenance.

His own boat required alterations to pass the Boat Safety Scheme examination in order to renew the licence. He was trying to earn the money to pay for the examination and alterations by working on other people's boats. He did not manage to earn the required sum quickly enough to prevent the charity seizing his home.

“It is appalling that a vulnerable pensioner, who should be retired, was put in a position where he has to go out to work to try to avoid being evicted, and that he was made homeless despite trying very hard to avoid his boat being taken” said Pamela Smith, Chair of the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA). “The conduct of Canal & River Trust's enforcement staff is a disgrace” she continued.

Boaters on the River Lea in London criticised Canal & River Trust's priorities, giving precedence to evicting a pensioner whilst being extremely slow to clear up the pollution caused by a recent industrial oil spill on the river.

The appeal to buy Tony a replacement boat is online here: https://www.youcaring.com/slowtony-1146108

National Bargee Travellers Association

Clay stops leak – but is it a repair?


You might find this picture interesting, it shows a large load of puddle clay which has been dumped into the canal adjacent to the towpath on the Shroppie just a stones throw from Norbury Junction.

I am reliably informed by locals that the parish council complained to C&RT about the water flooding across the road at the bottom of the embankment below the point where this picture was taken.

C&RT alledgedly denied all responsibility but a few days later a barge and pushtug arrived and dumped a whole boatload into the canal alongside the towpath and, lo and behold, no more leak flooding the road.

Hardly a proper repair and not exactly showing any finesse in resolving the problem but no doubt it still qualifies as another job successfully completed in C&RT's big book of maintenance solutions.

Roger Abbott

Whatever happened to the Waterways Code?


I am attaching some pictures taken of the leaflet produced by British Waterways entitled "The Waterways Code" containing guidelines for waterways users.

I read with interest the guidelines for both fishermen and cyclists and was rather surprised at the way many elements seem to have been completely dismissed by the current 'custodians' of our waterways despite the fact that they were obviously well considered and thought out with a balanced approach.

Now we appear to have C&RT being perfectly happy with the fact that parts of the towpath around Birmingham being used as a cyclists speed trial track and presumably it will not be long before this practice spreads to other urban areas.

The guidelines for fishermen are also of interest and clearly identify the need to avoid obstructing locks, moorings, water points and "turning points", all places where I personally have encountered fishermen in the past year presumably because there is no longer a leaflet produced by C&RT which educates them in these matters.

I do wonder as to why C&RT have chosen to distance themselves from such obviously sensible guidelines and no longer appear to see any requirement to produce and promote a document such as this. Surely reinstating it would go a long way to improving the relations and understanding between canal users.

It might help if Mr Richard Parry was to read it, he might then realise that his encouragement of hordes of speeding cyclists and promoting towpaths as national cycleways is an utterly idiotic thing to do.

I know for a fact that when he has been confronted with this issue in the past that he has simply written off concerns by saying that cyclists just need to be "educated" to "share the space" but my own experience tells me that he has failed miserably in his role as 'educator'.

Roger Abbott

Photos: (1st) Tony's boat being towed away, (2nd) The clay repair on the Shropie, (3rd, 4th, 5th) The Waterways Code leaflet.

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