According to a press release issued by the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA), a volunteer organisation that campaigns and provides advice for constant cruisers, the Court of Appeal has granted permission to Nick Brown, the NBTA’s legal officer, for a Judicial Review of the CRT’s contentious 2011 Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring.
Lord Justice Jackson said in his judgement that the issue of whether the 2011 Guidance accurately sets out the powers of CRT and the restrictions on licence holders arising from Section 17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995 merits pursuit in Judicial Review. I agree. Anything that brings clarity has to be a good thing. We cruise on the Thames and have few problems, but the CRT isn’t terribly boater friendly, despite charging large sums of money for it’s licenses, and seems to make up the rules as it goes along.
Our boat is pretty and well maintained -
But it always helps to have complete clarity, and this ruling overturns a previous High Court judgement (November 2012) that refused permission for Judicial Review. It’s good to see that common sense has prevailed. CRT claims that the Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring sets out what a boater is required to do to comply, but the Court of Appeal believes it is arguable whether CRT is correct and I’ve heard it said that the CRT enforces unevenly, with boaters with less pretty boats being targeted with orders to move on. The lack of clarity would chew your mind.
Most people simply observe some good practise rules that the NBTA espouses, such as mooring properly, leaving the easy mooring spaces free for the one week cruises, and as the owner of a ‘pretty’ boat, we’ve had no problems – but I hate to think of fellow boaters being targeted.
In 2012, the CRT committed £500,000 on a project to reduce the numbers of boaters who do not comply with its interpretation of the law. That’s half a million pounds that could have been spent providing new moorings or undertaking much needed repairs to waterways. I always find it really sad that the CRT hasn’t been able to embrace the boating community. London boaters have demonstrated clearly that having boats on them enhances canal users experience, and adds a sense of safety to people walking themselves, their families and dogs along towpaths. There’s room on the river for everyone if it’s managed well. Sure, there will always be disagreements, but it would be really nice if the CRT could step up and become the hero of the hour rather than the villain of the piece. It is, after all, both publicly funded and a charity, and should be there, therefore, to represent more than just the interests of holiday boat providers, who increase costs as well as bringing revenue.
Well done to Nick and Panda. Let’s hope it leads to happier relationships in future. I’m back off to enjoy some sunshine!
(For more information about the ruling, contact email@example.com)