C&RT licence - boaters in conflict

April 2017 - Many boaters are concerned that the current review of boat licensing by the Canal & River Trust is unnecessary and an excuse to impose further restrictions and higher charges on some types of boater. Peter Underwood has been looking at two disparate views

Like C&RT, the Inland Waterways Association believes that changes are needed to its boat licensing system that 'would allow it to focus resources and give boaters a fairer deal'.

It echoes C&RT's unsubstantiated claim that boat owners see it as 'complex, out of date and inequitable'.

In fact the IWA, which also has a policy of imposing enormously long cruising ranges on continuously cruising boaters, says the review 'could potentially address the issue of overcrowding in certain stretches of the waterways system and how services, originally provided for occasional navigating boaters, can be adequately resourced'.

It is a stance that reflects it's hostility to continuous cruisers and liveaboards and suggests it wants to see higher charges for such boaters and perhaps higher charges in London and other busy places.

The IWA, which claims to represent all canal users and, amongst its boating members, has a massive majority of non-liveaboard boaters with home moorings, apparently favours charging by area rather than length, as it presently the case.

The consultation is being run by Involve, an independent charity, and in the first stage the IWA has already had an opportunity to directly lobby for it's view. It says it 'will be putting forward proposals to C&RT on possible future licensing options that have been agreed by its Navigation Committee'.

The second stage, is under way and Involve is already hosting a series of 'workshops with boaters' across the country.

And IWA is marshalling its membership – just as it did in elections of boater representatives on C&RT's Council – to push it's viewpoint during the final stage when all boat owners will be asked to give their views.

On the other side of the boating divide The National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) says it is opposed to any increases in the cost of boat licences except for annual increases in line with inflation.

It argues any price increase will make it harder for poorer boat dwellers to pay the licence fee and will result in more boats becoming unlicensed.

And it doesn't want licences that discriminate against Ccers or those who boat in any particular area. It says the Standard Canal and River Licence 'must continue to provide access to navigate the entire waterway system of C&RT'.

The NBTA statement says: “The price of a boat licence must remain the same regardless of whether a boat is licensed with or without a home mooring. There should be no differential pricing or regional licences.”

It goes on to say C&RT “.. cannot use the boat licensing system as social engineering to control who uses its waterways.” ​

Photos: (1st) Weavers' Triangle on the Leeds and Liverpool at Burnley - one of the quietest canals with few CCers, (2nd) Merry Hill in the Black Country - plenty of moorings and no clash between liveaboard and holiday boaters, (3rd) Marina Moorings in Worcester. The IWA's boaters predominantly have nmoorings, (4th) The Regents Canal in London - favourite haunt of liveaboard CCers in the capital, (5th) Plenty of space at Victoria Park in East London.

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