Marina owner's hatred of continuous cruisers

August 2017 - Its not unusual to see boaters ranting on Facebook but when a marina owner decides to call continuously cruising boaters ' leeches on society' it still comes as something of a shock as Peter Underwood reports.

The post from Steve Wright, the owner of Apperley Bridge Marina on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Bradford utilised all the usual epithets used by those who claim continuous cruisers are a problem on the system.

Referring to the licence review Steve Wright said: “CRT really need to get this sorted. Rethinking the licensing model isn't going to stop these bridge hoppers. It's enforcement that's needed. Take away their continuous cruising licences and the right to use the navigation. Sell their boats and put the proceeds towards maintenance of the system. That way law abiding folk might be able to cruise London again and actually find a mooring spot!”

The marina he owns describes itself as: “Part of the prestigious Waterfront Mews development” and claims to “offer secure, quality long term moorings on the picturesque Leeds & Liverpool Canal between Leeds and Bingley.” We have to assume continuous cruisers are not welcome in his marina.

When boater Clara Loft responded with the words: “blimey you nazi”, Steve was having none of it. He said: “Not at all. Sometimes Draconian measures are required to deal with these leeches on our society.

Which brought another liveaboard boater and C&RT Navigation Advisory Group member Alison Tuck into the fray: She said: “Steve Wright they pay their licence they have as much right to cruise around London as anyone else.

Unfortunately Steve Wright's knowledge of the situation isn't quite up to date. He insisted: “...the licence is called a "continuous cruising" licence, not a "continually moored up" licence.

“They are taking advantage of a flawed licensing system that needs addressing. Continous cruising should be exactly that, not going backwards and forwards in the same area. If they have a job that requires going to the same place of work each day they should be made to buy a standard licence and prove they have a home mooring.

“CRT have recognised this as a growing problem and are putting measures in place to combat it such as hefty fines for overstaying, more 48 hour moorings rather than 2 weeks etc. There is a licencing review going on at the moment which will hopefully address this issue. It's time to drive these spongers from the system, their days are numbered and not a moment too soon.”

Alison pointed out the facts: “I sit on the Navigational Advisory Group for CRT. I have seen the figures CRT have issued 600 six months licences for not moving far enough. Around 10% of licences ccers when they started the crack down in 2015. The figures have been coming down ever since.

“What you are percieving as overstaying is in fact a much more busy system. Boat numbers have been rising there are now loads more boats on the system than during the their industrial heights. Yes it's busy but it's not due to overstaying.”

Clara Loft supported Alison: “Yes there is a licencing review going on at the moment and luckily for the 'boaters without a home mooring' people like Alison and myself are part of the advisory group working with CRT on this. So we hope the results will be fair to all canal users.

“Incidentally we were all out in this very stretch of London canals with CRT yesterday and it is not as crowded as the hype, and we saw boats moving and every boat we saw had a valid licence.”

And Alison administered a gentle slap: “Steve Wright less of the sponger comments it's not called for and you make me ashamed to be a boater. So pack it in.”

Steve, who apparently thinks there is is something called a Continuous Cruiser licence, continued to rant, claiming there had been 'a large increase in the purchase of CC licences'.

He went on, without any evidence or factual basis to insist: “The fact CRT only issued 600 six month licences is due to a lack of resources to enforce the problem. The problem is real and growing.

“I would suggest that over 60% of CCers do not continuously cruise but merely move from place to place and back again in the same area, which is not in the spirit of the licence. This is born out by the number of times the licensing rules are contested by so called CCers who think it's ok to bridge hop.

“The licencing model and regulations need to be tightened to stop this happening, or do you think it's acceptable to allow people to use our waterways in this way?

“The guidelines are laughable and easily taken advantage of. 20 miles is easily achievable in a day never mind a year! No one in their right mind can honestly agree that only moving 20 miles in a year constitutes being a continuous cruiser.

“Taking advantage seems to be the default position for many people these days it seems. Poor Tom Rolt would be turning in his grave at the thought of people taking advantage of the system as they do at the moment.” (All the spelling and grammar is reported without corrections)

Clara Loft tried to put Mr Wright on the right track about canal history: “I think he would be very happy that the waterways are being utilized all year around and are 100% fulfilling his "Vision for Living".

“To quote from one of his books.....'Rolt wanted the canals left as the preserve of the fast disappearing working boat families who for generations had lived their water gypsy lives afloat. He clung to the romantic notion that their dying way of life could be resuscitated before it was too late'.

Perhaps realising he was arguing with boaters who knew a lot about the canals Mr Wright resorted to: “Well we obviously aren't going to agree on this one are we? Wouldn't do if we were all the same I guess.”

But Clara wasn't letting him off the hook: “If we had it your way the canals would not have young people or working people or families and children living real lives on them. They would be still mostly empty, cotton wool guarded heritage and hire boat industries....and I think its fair to say that the majority of liveaboard boaters care passionately about the canal and its surroundings and try and look after it.

“This is another golden age of the canals, and lets face it, they are never going to be used for industry again. so if we all want to keep them going we all need to stop using labels such as "spongers" and "bridge hoppers" etc and realise there is room for everyone and embrace it.”

Eventually Nick Brown, the National Bargee Travellers Association Law Officer became exasperated with the marina owner's rant and reported it to Facebook as hate speech. He says he is also considering reporting Mr Wright to the police for the same offence.

Nick said: “Firstly the abuser of the 'system' is in fact CRT which is abusing its powers way beyond what is reasonable; which is why (in a meeting in which Richard Parry, CEO of CRT, was summoned to attend by an MP) one head teacher called CRT 'barbaric' and a letter signed by 13 MPs including several front-benchers to CRT objecting to CRTs behaviour was met with 'we don't give a shit'.

“Secondly the law says this: Assuming a “Continuous Cruiser”, s.17 of the British Waterways Act 1995 states:

(3) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment but subject to subsection (7) below, the Board may refuse a [licence] in respect of any vessel unless--
(a) the applicant for the relevant consent [has a valid Boat Safety Scheme Certificate];
(b) an insurance policy is in force in respect of the vessel … ; and
(c) ….
(ii) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.

“So we have
(1) used bona fide for navigation
(2) throughout
(3) without remaining continuously in any one place
(4) for more than 14 days
(5) or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances

“The minutes of the Parliamentary Select Committee state that BW agreed that (1) was defined by (4) (i.e. that the test for bona fide navigation was that the vessel did not remain more than 14 days in any one place unless reasonable to stay longer).



“And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what the law states.”

Photos: (1st) Apperley Bridge Marina By JohnYeadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, (2nd) Steve Wright.

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