Just another 'body' on the towpath

Published: Wednesday, 28 October 2020

TONY DUNKLEY’s Halcyon Daze has been seized by CaRT, writes Pam Pickett.

Four unidentified men, accompanied by enforcement officer Stuart Garner who was waving a Court Order, he claimed gave the Trust the right to evict Tony, and to take his boat.

Would be arrested

Tony Dunkley was advised that unless he left the boat willingly, he would be arrested, put in a cell overnight and his beloved rescue dog Betsy would be locked in the boat and then handed over to a Dog Warden on completion of the boats journey.

Tony’s boat was on a private mooring on the Trent, it had no working engine or power of any description.  The boat’s safety exemption scheme, as published on CaRT’s website was completed, details of Tony’s insurance were given but to no avail.

Payments refused

On no less than four occasions, I personally acting on Tony Dunkley’s behalf, attempted to make payments and each offer being refused.  Even though I referred to a Rivers Only Licence. At the last time of asking, Stuart Garner even raised the question of shore power used by Tony on his boat.

I have to ask what that has to do with the price of sliced bread!  Since when has shore power come under boat safety? Regardless, Tony at the age of 72 is just another body to be left homeless with nowhere to go, a proven method on the part of the Trust given its past history; leaving a woman in a nightdress homeless (she then lived in a tent), towing away a boat with a sick woman onboard.

Left elderly man on towpath

Even left an elderly man and his cat homeless on the towpath, all because he wanted to visit his sick mother.  The tip of the iceberg. However, if there is any satisfaction to be had here the eye watering cost to the Trust of snatching the wooden narrowboat Pearl, leaving this said man and his cat homeless, has to be it.

In order to put the record straight, in reply to speculation as the removal of Tony’s boat,  Tony was offered a BSS inspection by the Trust.  He accepted the offer, which was swiftly withdrawn by the Trust.  Tony then organised a BSS inspection himself, but unfortunately due to flooding the inspector was unable to attend.  Tony was then unwell with suspected coronavirus, he received two inclusive tests and was then asked to take a further test.

Advised to self-isolate

But unfortunately, none were available. Tony was therefore advised to self-isolate until such times that his COVID-19 symptoms had gone. The Trust therefore requested photographs of the interior of Tony’s boat and his engine, to verify whether or not it was BSS exempt. Photographs were duly supplied and refuted by the Trust that still continued to query the status of the engine.  Despite the engine being visibility in pieces, as it has been for several years.

To reiterate Tony Dunkley is 72 years old, has severe and chronic Asthma and has suffered with previously undiagnosed and now reoccurring Cellulitis, and during these frequent reoccurrences he is unable to drive or even walk.  And in addition, Tony Dunkley is suffering from kidney stones, a very painful condition.  So, could you honestly tell me that as a result of your direct actions of removing his boat, do you think that a car, with a damp and cold atmosphere and nowhere to comfortably stretch out, is a suitable environment for anybody?  Let alone for someone with so many medication problems?

Sent to wrong address

In conclusion Tony Dunkley has attempted to work within the statute book, though one has to ask whether the Trust has in actuality followed suit?  Bearing in mind that when Tony Dunkley received his first Section 8 Notice from CaRT, that notice failed to contain all information to any boater who wishes to make a defence, thus enabling the Trust to virtually rubber stamp any Section 8 claim.  In addition to this, the last paperwork sent to Tony Dunkley by the Trust, was addressed to an address at which Tony Dunkley had not resided for six years.

Time to bring back British Waterways that were accountable to higher authority and to get rid of CaRT that is only responsible to itself.  And doing a lousy job to boot.  I rest my case.

Non-existent Appeal Panel

In conclusion, Tony Dunkley asked to have the matter of the BSS Exemption Certificate referred to the Trusts Appeal Panel, that like the Waterways Ombudsman in its past, appears to be non existent . Furthermore, to expel a myth here, had Tony's boat been found to be non compliant he would of course have paid for any necessary certificate. His honesty at least is not in question.

[CaRT have an officer who takes care of distressed, homeless and ill boaters. I should imagine Tony qualifies for all three.  So where is he/she in this case?  Or is it another of those 'vague and meaningless' appointments?—Editor.]