Friday, 11 March 2011

Secret war a secret no longer

I claimed last year that I thought BW was continuing its long standing tacit policy to price out residential boaters through a process of exclusion and gentrification. In a remarakable statement reported in the Guardian, BW's Head of Boating Sally Ash confirms this in the starkest terms:

"... we have to control the number of boats, which have increased by 40% over the last four years on the Lea. The only way we can do this is through price, and some people will have to suffer."

The lie that the Continuous Crusing option is some sort of loophole is also repeated: 

British Waterways says between 160 and 200 boats in the area are used as permanent residences. These boats can exploit a lack of clarity in the waterways legislation to use a "continuous cruising" licence, costing about £600 a year, which lets owners move just short distances every fortnight.

The fact is that continuous cruisers are simply exercising the explicit right to navigate enshrined in the 1995 Waterways Act, a right that Parliament confirmed on a cross party basis, despite vehement opposition from BW. (See Section 17 (3) (c) (ii)).

It is ironic to say the least that BW are asking us to support their proposed move to the charitable sector at the same time as they are promoting policies of social and financial exclusion against residential boaters. BW seem to see the Olympics as an opportunity to press ahead with their policies of exclusion which is to say the least ironic if one still beleves in the Olympic principles of opportunity and inclusion.


  1. Simon Richardson12 March 2011 at 00:48

    Hi Simon it's me, Simon Richardson, friend of Steve T. (and Hugh E) It's my letter in the Guardian dated March 12th!! How about that, I was never exercised enough to write a letter to a newspaper before and they only go and print it! Rarely have I read such misrepresentations than have come from Ms Ash!! Anyway I can help you guys please let me know.

  2. There's a typo - it's the 1995 British Waterways Act

  3. Guardian letters - including a response from Sally Ash.