In response to the recently announced plan by CRT to intensify enforcement action against license violation, the Financial Times published an article about those who live on the waterways, with particular reference to the London Area. AWCC supports CRT in this enforcement plan and has written a response to the FT giving the Association’s view on the matter as follows:-
I read with interest your article in the Feb 26 edition regarding people living on boats on the inland waterway system. As National Chairman of a large boating organisation – The Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs* – perhaps I might be allowed to comment.
Prior to 1995 a boat used on the waterways was required to have home mooring; a place where that boat could be safely and lawfully kept. It was recognised that another class of licence was needed for those boaters who, largely by retirement or sabbatical, wished to cruise the waterways without a permanent home mooring; the Continuous Cruiser license was added to provide this facility. This proved very successful and attracted a small but enthusiastic group of boaters who added, and continue to add, much to the waterway scene.
The world changes of course, in recent years, and probably fuelled by the lack of affordable housing, the Continuous Cruiser License has been employed by another group who wish to remain largely in one place for their own convenience. This has led to unacceptable overcrowding difficulties and congestion in certain areas, particularly in the conurbations, as well as making it difficult for other boaters to moor or visit as they enjoy the waterways. Many ordinary boaters feel this is an inappropriate use of this type of licence, and an evasion of the costs that they have to pay to moor their boats lawfully at a single location.
Many boaters who hold a Continuous Cruising Licence are happy to abide by the requirements of mooring and movement as understood by the Canal and River Trust; the Trust has stated they have nothing to fear from the enforcement process if they follow the appropriate protocols. The Trust has also stated that should a boater be unsure of what is considered an acceptable pattern of cruising, they should speak to the local Enforcement Officer or local Trust Office for guidance. It would appear that this is an information led initiative aimed at preventing boaters getting into difficulties whilst sending a warning to those who continue to ignore the requirements of the Continuous Cruiser Licence.
The Trust is not a housing authority but recognizes and supports those who wish to make their homes on the waterways. The Trust has recently appointed a Welfare Officer to help those boaters who feel vulnerable or find themselves in difficulty.
There is no doubt that genuine continuous cruisers are a very welcome addition to the waterway community and have wide support from the boating community.
* AWCC represents around one hundred boat clubs across the inland waterway system with a total of seven thousand boating members. AWCC fully supports genuine Continuous Cruisers.”