Marina to be shut down and all boaters evicted

Published: Thursday, 29 June 2017

THE New Islington Marina was constructed in 2013 as part of a new short waterway connecting the Rochdale and Ashton canals in Manchester, accommodating resident boaters, but they have been told they have to vacate the marina for 12 months.

This means that the 30 families living in the marina will face eviction by the end of August, as Manchester City Council is to undertake remedial works to the marina but it wants the families out before this starts, with a private company put in charge of the marina once the the work is complete, Alan tilbury reports.

New Islington mapAffordable rents

A great deal of money was spent by Manchester City Council on this area, that it has re-named the Eastern Gateway, with many new residential buildings erected, making a great show of the 30 families allowed to live on boats at affordable rents in the midst of this upmarket development.

The opportunity of 'creating a socially integrated neighbourhood' of living on boats at low rents offered by the council was quickly taken up, mostly by those working in the area with either jobs or businesses, and some with children.

The map above shows the marina on the new waterway connecting the Rochdale Canal shown along the top and the Ashton Canal shown along the bottom.

New Islington Marina.jpgAll out by end of August

But Manchester Council has served notice that all must be out of the marina by the end of August otherwise they will be evicted so that an estimated £5.2 millions of remedial works around the marina can be undertaken, with the notice stating:

'In order to undertake the works in the Marina in the most cost effective and safe manner, it will be necessary to relocate the 30 boats that are currently moored there', meaning all must be gone by the 31st August.

Well beyond their means

However it is expected that once the berths are available again, those that currently hold licences will have the opportunity to return, but with the notice that a new marina operator will then be in charge, it is expected that the 'affordable rents' will go and will be greatly increased in keeping with a marina in a city centre, rents that the residents firmly believe will be well beyond their means.

It is believed the 'affordable rents' was little more than a publicity campaign by Manchester City Council to show that it is helping those who do not have the means to afford the high rents of its many developments.

No attempt to rehouse

There has been no attempt at re-housing these families, that of course leaves the residents fearing for their homes and jobs, with one resident Jane Williams telling Salford Star:

"To make a decision to simply wipe out a community and feel no obligation to re-house them seems to me totally inhumane. It's an appalling decision to be making.

"None of this, as far as we can see, requires the removal of the boats; we're quite nonplussed as to why they need us out. Our theory is that they want to hand over the marina to a developer who will then turn it into some sort of gated community, and perhaps charge a lot more to live here, and possibly get rid of the existing residents. I suspect that the council is looking to get maybe a different class of boaters in...

 "All of us would not be able to carry on doing the jobs that we do and live in the centre of Manchester if they asked us to leave because there isn't another marina with enough berths in it within 50 miles."

Charges up to £250 a week

The families have been offered berths by Peel Holdings on its Bridgewater Canal and at Castlefield, but there are few permanent berths there, with reports that the company charges up to £250 a week rent.

Another problem is that being solely residential, some of the boats have no engines, with another alternative being to take out a continuous cruiser licence with Canal & River Trust that allows boats to stay in one place for two weeks, that is no good for these residents, as most work in the area.

Many of the residents are worried about living on the canals, with Jane remarking:

"An establishment like New Islington Marina offers security, it's a close knit community. People look after each other here in a way that you don't see much these days, that old fashioned community spirit. That family atmosphere you just don't get in somewhere like any of these new developments here. And that element of security is not there if you're living out on the 'cut'."

There are stories being passed around of life on the 'cut' of isolated boats being attacked, set on fire and vandalised, leaving the residents worried about leaving the marina for life on the canals.