Victor: 'Blue badges' for continous cruisers!

Published: Sunday, 26 January 2020

IT WOULD seem that Canal & River Trust has given up on chasing continuous cruisers—that don't.

Its latest scheme is to give out a form of 'blue badge' as issued to disabled people, only they will be yellow!

Under the 'Trust Aware' name, it tells that it is to begin providing permits to boaters who have been granted an 'adjustment to their cruising requirements' using the Equality Act 2010.

The top and bottom of the scheme is that it will allowing qualifying boaters to overstay on visitor or towpath moorings and having their cruising range cut.

It was boaters themselves that suggested the scheme(!) and the yellow badge will be given automatically to every boater who has an 'adjustment' and boaters can choose whether they want to display them—that seems somewhat odd, though rather obvious why some would not want to display.

We are told there are around 240 boaters with 'approved adjustments', and around a further 140 in the process of being arranged for 'disabled boaters and people with protected characteristics'.

However, unlike the blue badge scheme, there is no need to have an assessment by a medical practitioner, all it needs is filling in a 10 page form created by CaRT, with someone saying yea or nay.

What I really have to askwhat qualifications can anyone at CaRT possibly have for assessing all the myriad of medical and mental problems or disabilities...?

Would have helped

Which brings me to two mentally ill boaters ousted off the waterways that the scheme would certainly have helped, but alas CaRT had no vulnerable boater policy.

There was Maggie, with CaRT evicting the mentally ill boater, that hit the national headlines, as she ended up living in a tent outside a police station. CaRT stole my boat I want it back!

Steve James, was another who came up against the strong arm of CaRT, it grabbing his £40,000 boat and evicting him in the process, even though he had been diagnosed with cervical Stenosis/lumber spinal stenosis/osteoporosis along with Gilberts syndrome osteoarthritis and a mental condition of social phobias which was the reason he came on the canal to get away from people.

Though he had a case worker, a mental health worker and consultants reports, the boat licence money he paid was returned to him and his boat seized.


Then there was the boat Toad Hall, with lots of CaRT stickers pasted on it, month after monthbut the boater was dead. It is told through the worry of the aggression he was feeling.

Another obvious case for 'Trust Aware'.

Not so 'Better by Water'

The terrible case of the boy attempting to leap across an Aston Canal lock and subsequently dying brought to mind that he was not the only one, discovering two others who met the same fate—one on the Wolverhampton Level and another on the then newly opened Lancaster Link.

This caused further delving, to discover that even recently no few have met their deaths care of the waterways.

On the 9th of November a 35 years old man drowned in the canal at Newport. On the 15th of November a 71 years old woman  fell in the canal at Ellesmere, losing consciousness. Then up in Scotland on the 1st December a man drowned at Spier Wharf in Glasgow.  On the 8th January a woman was found dead in the canal at Parbold, Wigan.

No mention of course by CaRT or its supporting publications...  But it certainly shows it is not always 'Better by Water' as it would have us believe.

Victor Swift