Boaters converge on Broxbourne to defend their rights to moor

Published: Friday, 16 April 2021

BOATERS and their boats are descending on Broxbourne in protest against Canal & River Trust's 'water safety zone'.

They are heading en masse to Broxbourne on the Lea to protest on Saturday 17th April, at the introduction of the Canal & River Trust’s new rules that restricts or prohibits the mooring of boats, and will displace 550 boats, including 150 from sites in Hackney, Tottenham and Clapton in addition to Broxbourne.

No evidence

The trust states it is addressing the safety concerns of rowers on the Lee but the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) boaters say the rust has provided no evidence that moored boats are a risk to rowers.

The NBTA argues that the policy is profoundly ill-conceived in the context of a housing crisis and a pandemic. They also argue that evacuated canals will turn the towpaths into the danger zones they once were, prior to the growth in the boating population with Ian McDowell, Chairman of the London branch of the NBTA arguing:

Incidents are between rowers

“Three quarters of rowing safety incidents occur between two rowers rather than between rowers and boaters. The relationship between moored boats and rowing safety incidents is very weak, if there is any relationship at all.

“CaRT has provided very limited data to justify this policy, and yet the impact on the boating community will be drastic. Many boats in London are homes. Boaters who are forced out of London will be forced out of their homes because they have built their lives in London. They will have to abandon the boating life and their homes with it.”

Drive boats off the waterways

Boaters believe that the ‘safety zone’ policy is part of a larger attempt to drive them off the waterways, and the trust aims to introduce policy proposals later in the year aimed at ‘managing boat numbers’.

Boaters say they have asked the CaRT for the data they have used to calculate an 'optimal' number of boats, but have been met with silence. They say they are left to conclude that the CaRT’s various manoeuvres are motivated by an underlying prejudice against nomadic communities and that this prejudice will have dire consequences for the London boating community.