When CRT established the Towpath Mooring Control project (which was quickly renamed the Towpath Mooring Management project) it declared its intention to write to all new continuous cruisers ‘welcoming’ them and setting out what CRT expected regarding boat movements. This was implemented from January 2014, according to the Towpath Mooring Management project report of the same month.
“From January 2014, everyone taking out a licence without a home mooring for the first time now receives a letter during the first month of their licence explaining how we monitor all boat movements, and that we will give them feedback regularly during their first year with early warnings if we believe they are not moving enough to qualify as a continuous cruiser.”
Those new boaters without home moorings whom CRT considered were not complying with its legal requirements after three months would get a first warning letter. If CRT considered they were still not complying after a further unspecified period they would get a second letter warning them that they would enter the enforcement process unless their boat movements changed. If CRT considered that their boat movements still did not comply with CRT’s legal requirements then it would refuse to renew their licence for the next year unless they took a permanent mooring.
The problem is, these letters are misleading new boaters about the law. CRT states in the first letter that the “definition of navigation implies a journey of some length” … “so you can’t shuffle to and fro in a small area just because that’s where your work or other commitments are”. This is just not true.
There is plenty of case law that defines navigation as “the action or practice of passing on water by vessels of all kinds” (Crown Estate Commissioners v Fairlie Yacht Slip  SC156) or “to make ordered progression over the water from one place to another” (R v Goodwin  1 WLR 546).
Section 17 (3) of the British Waterways Act 1995 defines the conditions under which boats are licensed:
3) Notwithstanding anything in any enactment but subject to subsection (7) below, the Board may refuse a relevant consent in respect of any vessel unless—
(a) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel complies with the standards applicable to that vessel;
(b) an insurance policy is in force in respect of the vessel and a copy of the policy, or evidence that it exists and is in force, has been produced to the Board; and
(i) the Board are satisfied that a mooring or other place where the vessel can reasonably be kept and may lawfully be left will be available for the vessel, whether on an inland waterway or elsewhere; or
(ii) the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances.
Any so-called ‘legal requirements’ such as CRT’s Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring that require you to do more that what is stated in Section 17 3 c ii, are unlawful. Indeed, CRT’s Guidance does not state that “the definition of navigation implies a journey of some length”. When the Guidance was written in 2011 after the BW v Davies court case, the initial draft did include the phrase “a journey of some length” but this was removed from the final version. CRT took advice from its barrister Christopher Stoner QC before releasing the Guidance in October 2011.
After the BW v Davies judgement in 2011, BW was forced to amend its previous 2004 Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers because the Judge decided that the 2004 Guidance was too onerous, setting requirements that were beyond BW’s legal powers to enforce.
It is not a co-incidence that CRT’s Enforcement Team has until recently reported to the Marketing Director Simon Salem. It is well known in the world of marketing that one of the best ways to persuade people to buy something is to make them afraid (the Listerine adverts on TV are a classic example). The second letter contains a threat that is not even veiled: “this could leave you with the stark choice … of moving off our canals and rivers”. What better way to sell moorings than making boat dwellers fearful of losing their homes?''
Since 2007 the objective of the increased harassment of those living on boats was to stock marinas and, thus, encourage the creation of more marinas. BW, as it was then, promised marina developers that they would drive people into marinas through threats and harassment - called 'enforcement' to encourage the private development of marinas. They could then justify the charge of an exorbitant 'connection fee'.
Thus people were hounded to go into a marina - unlawful, as no residential planning permission, and acknowledged by BW to be unlawful and generally a breach of the terms and conditions of the marina but, nonetheless 'encouraged', with threat of legal action and loss of your boat. Or go round and round the canal network forever in accordance with the, deliberately, punitive, unworkable, unreasonable, and unlawful, rules of continuous cruising.
If the 'boater' was driven from the canal they would not take their boat so that would be sold to someone else who would be pressurised to go into a marina. BW/CRT want the boat to extract revenue. They don't care who's on it.
The new owner would be hounded from the start. Move continuously or get a mooring (in a marina as most towpath moorings have been closed down.) Hardly what the person would have intended. Why would you buy a boat to sit in a marina? Worse than any housing estate and much more restrictive than living in a house.
People were encouraged to come onto the waterways , largely through television programmes which BW were involved with. They painted the usual 'rosy' picture of life on the waterways to increase the number of boats. Boats were sold as 'ideal liveaboard'. Many were sold as 'sailaways'. You then had to fit them out. You can't work on your boat in a marina, you have to do it on the towpath. You then find you are harassed to move or get a 'mooring' in a marina (where you can't work on your boat) and may be told, as in many cases, that you can't work on your boat on the towpath. What you must do is keep moving, pointlessly, for no good reason other than as a constant reminder that you are being watched and are under threat and you have probably made a big mistake in thinking you can live on a boat so you'd better go in a marina or get off the canal if you want to be left in peace. This, frequently expressed in 'no uncertain terms' including 'We can do what we like to you and you can't do anything about it'.
They particularly, and deliberately (and cynically and callously), targeted older people and those with a health problem as they could be rehoused in sheltered accommodation. A tactic employed by caravan parks to get rid of older residents with older caravans. This is what was happening in the area where I was moored at the time, Northwich, and why I raised concerns and objections with the local manager, Julie Sharman. The start of my challenges to BW leading to all of this. This in 2007.
So, back to the marina development. The marinas, mostly, didn't get the customers they were promised. Some couldn't, or wouldn't - realising they had been conned - pay the exorbitant connection fee and the marinas were 'acquired' by BWML - British Waterways Marinas Limited - a private subsidiary of BW. Their 'development strategy' was stated as 'development by acquisition'. Suitably self explanatory.
BWML marinas, of course, did not have to pay the connection fee.
No profit from these marinas went to BW to maintain the canals but was used for further marina development (by 'acquisition'). Why create so many marinas when interest in the canals is declining? What is the ultimate objective? (Many will eventually become floating 'shanty towns).
Another article relating to the Judgment in my case.
''A JUDGMENT in a Canal & River Trust Section 8 court case confirms that it would be unlawful for the Trust to set a minimum distance that continuous cruisers must travel to comply with the law, and CaRT knew this for over a year but kept it secret!
This shoots down in flames its rules that continuous cruisers must move its defined lock/ miles and not immediately return to the same place, as the judgement also states a continuous cruiser can do exactly that. This judgment was handed down in November 2013 but CaRT has not published it, unlike other judgments in Section 8 cases. Yet despite knowing about this judgment for a year, CaRT is still currently attempting to set a minimum distance that continuous cruisers must travel in order to comply with the law!
Not required to use its mooring
To add to CaRT's woes the judge in the case, HHJ Halbert, stated that a boat with a permanent mooring is not required ever to use its mooring, though the Trust had been trying to enforce that it should.
The judgement in the case of CaRT v Mayers states that repeated journeys between the same two places would be 'bona fide navigation' if the boater had specific reason for making repeated journeys over the same stretch of canal. HHJ Halbert also stated that any requirement by CaRT to use a substantial part of the canal network was not justified by Section 17(3)(c)(ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995 because the requirement to use the boat for bona fide navigation is 'temporal not geographical'.
Did not disclose judgement
CaRT held two meetings with boating user groups on 22nd September and 3rd November 2014 in which it tried to persuade the groups to agree a minimum distance that boaters without home moorings must travel every three months and over their licence year to avoid enforcement action.
CaRT did not disclose this judgment at either meeting.
In 2011, BW re-wrote the Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers to remove the words 'the law requires a genuine progressive journey (a cruise) around the network or a significant part of it' as a result of the judgment in British Waterways v Davies, reported in narrowboatworld. (BW slammed over 'precedent' statement). The guidance was renamed Guidance for Boaters Without a Home Mooring.
In 2003, British Waterways tried to introduce the Draft Moorings Code or Lock Miles Rules, which would have required continuous cruisers to travel at least 120 different lock-miles every three months without using the same stretch twice. This draconian proposal was dropped by British Waterways following the threat of legal action by a boating user group and in 2004 the Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers was published instead.
Yet in spite of this judgement CaRT started court action in early 2014 against a boat dweller Tony Dunkley, that was widely publicised in narrowboatworld, (The Tony Dunkley fiasco) who did not use his home mooring. It has now dropped the Section 8 claim against liveaboard Tony Dunkley. And of course we know realise why!
So the whole set of continuous cruising and mooring rules CaRT has been trying to force upon boaters is unlawful, and have been so for over a year, yet it still attempted to implement them!
The relevant paragraphs of the CaRT v Mayers judgement are reproduced below:
I consider the requirement imposed by CaRT that a substantial part of the network is used cannot be justified by relying solely on section 17(3). That section requires 'bona fide navigation throughout the period of the
licence' not 'bona fide navigation throughout the canal network'. The requirement is temporal not geographical. In my view it does NOT follow from:
Such journey or cruise must take place 'throughout the period of the licence.' that it' therefore requires progression round the network or at least a significant part of it.
If a person who lived permanently on his or her boat had specific reason for making repeated journeys over the same stretch of canal between two points sufficiently far apart to be regarded as different places, it would in my view be purposeful movement by water from one place to another and hence 'bona fide navigation'. In the course of argument I used the example of someone who lived on his boat but was also using the vessel commercially to move coal from a mine to an iron foundry only a few miles away and then returning empty for another load.
To take an extreme example, in its heyday, the Mersey Ferry operated continuously to and fro over the same stretch of water which is less than a mile wide. No one would ever have accepted the suggestion that the ferry boats were not bona fide used for navigation throughout the period of their operations.
There are clear anomalies in both positions. CaRT clearly regard the occupation of moorings by permanently resident boat owners who do not move very much as a significant problem (see paragraphs 3.5 and 3.6 above). However, neither the statutory regime in subsection 17(3) nor the guidelines can deal with this problem. A boat which has a home mooring is not required to be 'bona fide used for navigation throughout the period of the licence' but neither is it required ever to use its home mooring. The Act requires the mooring to be available, it does not say it must be used.
The guidelines also have this effect. The boat is still subject to the restriction that it must not stay in the same place for more than 14 days but there is nothing whatever to stop it being shuffled between two locations quite close together provided they are far enough apart to constitute different places. If those who are causing the overcrowding at popular spots have home moorings anywhere in the country the present regime cannot control their overuse of the popular spots. Such an owner could cruise to and fro along the Kennet & Avon canal near Bristol and the home mooring could be in Birmingham and totally unused.''
The Judge was quite clear in the court that if I got a mooring I could then move without restrictions as I said I wanted to do. I never said I wanted to stay in one place, merely, in the area as was permitted by the 1995 Waterways Act and by the qualification to the 14 day rule of 'as is reasonable in the circumstances'. I had a need for medical care in an ongoing series of clinical investigations. (My barrister pursued an argument that I wanted to stay in the one place which I had previously refuted. I had had multiple organ failure as a result of a chest infection - following pneumonia and septicaemia - and was having tests and investigations on my liver so needed to stay in the area).
The Judge saw that as a reasonable solution, i.e. BW find me a mooring, having been told there were 9 moorings available to me starting at £20 per week. A deliberate lie. There were no 'lawful' moorings, no genuinely available moorings and none at £20 per week. (For a 72 ft boat. I don't think so.).
Due to the lies, the inaccurate representation of my case, my limited opportunity to speak, my barrister being off sick for 2 days and lack of knowledge of everyone but myself, the Judge didn't have a hope of gaining a full understanding of the case. But, he could assess the legality of the requirement of the 1995 Act as against the rules of continuous cruising so that part of the Judgment is sound and reasonable.
The Judge made CRT give an Undertaking to the Court that I could remain on the waterways subject to negotiating an agreement which would probably involve me obtaining a 'mooring'. They were unwilling to agree to this and, subsequently, breached that agreement (Contempt of Court) and 'seized' my boat. I had this Undertaking clarified at a hearing I requested, having obtained a 'Stay of Execution' of the Court Order that had been granted, at a hearing I was told had been cancelled, that allowed the seizure of my boat on the last working day before Christmas, 2013. Obviously planned to cause me, and my cat, maximum inconvenience and distress (to say the least) and orchestrated in such a way as to obtain an order for £80,000 of costs which the Judge overturned at the subsequent hearing.
CRT were determined to get me off the waterways as a malicious act and to serve as an example to others. And have since shown a similar attitude in several cases when their unlawful demands are challenged.