Massive protest against CaRT's mooring 'Safety Zones'

Published: Thursday, 22 April 2021

THE National Bargee Travellers Association's (NBTA) protest against CaRT's mooring 'Safety Zones' proved most successful.

Held over last week-end at Broxbourne on the Lee it attracted dozens of boats with the waterway packed with boaters and their boats protesting against Canal & River Trust’s recently introduced 'Safety Zones'.

flotilla protest oneAllow rowers more space

These new rules are basically cutting down on moorings so as to allow rowers more space to manoeuvre, and what NBTA describe as absurd and falsely named new ‘Safety Zones’.

The Protest included boaters from all over the London region and beyond, including representatives from Broxbourne’s Cruising Club . A ‘towpath protest’ of boaters and non boaters followed in their wake, raising awareness of what it believes are CaRT's discriminatory policy changes, and how they threaten people’s livelihoods.

Confusing and unnecessary

Support from the local community was passionate, with many affirming how they love the boats, and see no need to introduce these confusing and unnecessary ‘safety zones’.

The NBTA argues that the policy is profoundly ill-conceived, particularly 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, spokesman Ian McDowell, chair of the London branch of the NBTA adding:

UntitledIncidents 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.

“The 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. These planned ‘safety zones’ will displace many boat dwellers from these areas.”

Many boaters believe that the ‘safety zone’ policy is part of a larger attempt to drive them off the waterways. CaRT aims to introduce policy proposals later in the year aimed at ‘managing boat numbers'.

Met with silence

Boaters say they have asked 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 its various manoeuvres are motivated by an underlying prejudice against nomadic communities and that this prejudice will have dire consequences for the London boating community.