C&RT consultations go into hyper-drive

October 2017 - Within the space of a few days the Canal & River Trust has hiked boat licences, launched the third stage of its consultation on boat licences and now published it's London Mooring Strategy for yet another complex consultation. Peter Underwood takes a look at the latest offering, which hasn't yet earned the widespread condemnation of the licensing proposals.

Perhaps it is because the London Moorings strategy is born out of a genuine problem and C&RT involved lots of boaters in discussing solutions, but initial responses have not been completely dismissive.

The London Mooring Strategy suggests:

1 - Development of new long-term moorings to be supported and prioritised in quieter/less busy areas (primarily outer London)
2 - Encourage development of long-term moorings from a diverse range of providers
3 - Improve provision, maintenance and management of short-stay moorings
4 - Develop custom short-stay moorings to meet customer demand
5 - Winter Moorings that recognise and balance the needs of all customers
6 - Better provision and management of boating facilities to meet customer need
7 - Improve communication between boaters and the Trust
8 - Increase business boating activity in key London waterway destinations
9 - Support activities that ensure accessible and affordable access to the water for all

According to C&RT, boaters can have their say up until 18 December 2017 by completing the consultation survey online or filling in a paper version, and C&RT says the survey will be sent to all boaters the Trust has sighted in London over the past year. Anyone who would like to complete the survey can contact the Trust’s London customer service team on enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager at C&RT, said: “It’s great that the canals are finding new fans, particularly amongst young people, who may well prove to be the waterways’ champions in years ahead. However it means it’s more important than ever that we manage the finite space we have wisely so we can meet the needs of the wide range of boaters who cruise them.

“The London Mooring Strategy pulls together proposals we’ve developed over 18 months working with a wide range of stakeholders, surveying boaters, and physically looking at every inch of the capital’s waterways. It’s been a collaborative effort and the input we’ve had from boaters with local knowledge has been invaluable. We’ve also built some strong relationships with councils, developers and landowners who can enable us to put the proposals into practise.

“London’s waterways are facing a real challenge – that of being almost too popular. This passion for the canals and rivers can be turned into an advantage if boaters, who are often the most passionate about them, work with us to make the capital’s waterways fair and accessible for all.”

The Trust says development of the London Mooring Strategy will be completed by early 2018.

The immediate reaction of National Bargee Travellers' London Chair, Marcus Trower was unequivocal: “The newest proposal for the London Mooring Strategy has all ingredients for the gentrification of London waterways.

“It ranges from business moorings for more 'business opportunities', to 'enforcing no-mooring sections', to working with property developers, to 22 sites with reduced mooring times and 'water sport zone' which would restrict even more towpath moorings.

“The only sweetener for us, is a promise of more facilities. However, this promise has been dangled in front of us for far too long.

“Even if C&RT came through on their promise of facilities, the dank, bitter after-taste of losing so much towpath to money making schemes would be too much to stomach.

“We support C&RT when they actually provide more facilities however we will do everything we can to prevent them slicing the towpath away from everyone bit by bit.

“At the start of London Mooring Strategy, C&RT outlined that if successful in London, they will try and roll it out across the county. Therefore, we ask as many people as possible to work with us to stop C&RT here in London to prevent them from rolling over the whole county.”

The Inland Waterways Association's London branch was clearly in favour of the strategy. It posted on Facebook: “The London Region welcomes the Canal & River Trust’s Draft London Mooring Strategy . In particular it is pleased to see a commitment to introduce new free short-stay visitor mooring sites and increased monitoring and management of these and existing moorings across the region. The proposed increase in paid-for pre-bookable moorings will provide boaters who want the peace of mind of a guaranteed mooring space, when visiting London is also welcomed.”

On the London Boaters Facebook forum the reaction was more cautious and not as negative overall.

Nick Corrigan wrote: “My reading of it is that all the new long term mooring creation is offside, so not taking away any of the 14 day moorings. Whilst some 14 day will change to 7 day or 48 hour, it looks like more will be created by more rings and clearances.

Mike Doherty was anxious that boaters shouldn't lose sight of the Licensing Consultation. He said: “The London Mooring Strategy Proposals are good - its the separate but simultaneous national Licence Review proposals that are dodgy.

“Should London CCrs pay more for their license than CCrs who cover a wider area, and more than boats with a permanent mooring? That's what they are proposing.”

Iain McKay said: “My view is that more facilities are required in London i.e. more Mooring Rings, Pumpout / Elsan points etc.

“London is busy, true, but that's not a massive problem as all boats have to move, so it's busy in a 'flowing' sort of way. More visitor moorings could be made, but not at the expense of current tow-path moorings.

“That inner London is so busy has opened up the Canals and attracted thousands of tourists / visitors onto the towpaths... far, far more than there used to be... and they are there principally, to look at lots of boats.”

Liam Dennis said: “I've only looked at the summary but personally I think it's pretty fair and I'm pleasantly surprised. It sounds like they have listened and taken on board some criticisms directed at them in the past.

“I think the nay-sayers should be pointed in the direction of some of the possible actions available to them that were suggested that would have made CC in London impossible. Credit where credit is due.”

Whilst Pavel Chichikov wrote: “It's weighted toward catering to visiting leisure boaters, nothing to benefit CCers who work and live aboard in London. Need to acknowledge we exist in large numbers and provide more 14-day spaces instead of pay moorings and short stay facilities.

There was general concern that C&RT's document had not spelled how just how many current 14-day mooring spots would be reduced to shorter stay times or given a different function as paid-for visitor moorings or business moorings.

Photos: (1st) Moorings in Paddington - where double mooring is now allowed, (2nd) A hire boat finds a spot in Paddington, (3rd) The first paid-for visitor mooring in the Pool at Little Venice, (4th) The draft London Mooring Strategy, (5th) One of the maps from the draft London Mooring Strategy, (6th) Another map from the draft London Mooring Strategy.

User login