Up in arms—but it's their own fault
So the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) are now up in arms, writes John Coxon.
This is about the proposed discrimination that CaRT are consulting on, that will discriminate, not only against illegal 'continuous moorers', but also against all the legal continuous cruisers as well.
Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's mainly their own fault!
Some form of action by the government can hardly be surprising after the recent social media campain showing how some bargees were telling others how to commit fraud by explaining how to claim multiple payments of the fuel allowance that is being paid to other boaters.
These were not well thought-out actions were they? These people need to realise that social media is not private and that it is entirely possible that not all their so called 'friends' will act in a friendly manner. Some things about the real world still to be learnt here I think!
Spreading things about breaking the law will be seen by the powers-that-be and actions will be taken to stop it, as has been amply proven here! It is not only those engaged in this attempted fraud who are being punished but all continuous cruisers. Something, that I can assure them, will take a long time for us real continuous cruisers to forget!
Ignoring the law on mooring
They are also, in large numbers, ignoring the law on mooring, as mooring in one spot for more than 14 days without good reason is against statute law as per the 1995 BW Act section 17! So they are technically breaking the law and not just CaRTs rules. and demanding that the government change them just to suit them. They are also demanding more and better facilities, for free mind you, in the areas where they illegally moor their boats for months on end!
Now, they purport to be surprised that CaRT are taking action against them, and also, unfortunately, the rest of us innocent continuous cruisers as well. Something I for one will never forgive either the bargees or CaRT for!
CaRT will not be bothered if a few of us law abiding innocent boaters are caught in the net if they can get at these illegal 'continuous moorers'. A little bit of collateral damage wouldn't worry them! And CaRT using the excuse that it's a differential being imposed due to how you use the waterways is about as believable as there being a London bus on the moon!
Alienate other boaters
If this discrimination is what the bargees groups wanted then then they have succeeded! It's not a good way to illicit membership or get support from the wider boating community, more like a damn good way to thoroughly alienate other boaters I would say.
These so called bargees groups need to stand well back and see the damage they are doing to the overall boating community by their greedy, illegal, selfish actions. In any case they are certainly not doing themselves any favours. They should look at themselves and try to understand how the rest of us see them.
They're moaning about the possibilty that the differential could split them from the rest of the boating community. Well I've got news for them, they've pretty well succeded in doing that for themselves. Real continuous cruisers, marina bound boaters and holiday makers etc. do not generally see them as proper boaters or support their demands for a change in the rules on mooring!
They tend to be seen by us as a bunch of freeloaders who do not care about the waterways, canals or general boating community. They are seen as an illegal group who just want a cheap place to live and have no interest in the rest of us. Whether this is actually right or wrong is immaterial as it is how many of us proper boaters see them!
They may not like the law but the law is there and they have to live with it. If you don't like it then get the authorities to enter into dialogue to get it changed. Just ignoring it and demanding it be changed just to suit them will not work as they are now finding out to their, and our, cost.
Also, a few of them engaging in illegal practices such as fraud does not do the greater boating community any good as the authorities see us all through the same portal and therfore treat us all with the same disdain and disrespect.
Distrust of boaters
It appears that the authorites have an inbuilt distrust of boaters. I have found this to be the case from practical experience. Actions such we have seen from some of these so called bargees lately will not have helped in changing that attitude!
If groups like the NBTA et al want to do any good they will get their members to obey the law as they stand and tell them to engage in sensible two-way dialogue. They also need to show that they are respectable members of the boating community who can be trusted and not as a law-breaking bunch of freeloading fraudsters who should be punished.