This is the next bit of the complaint letter. No-one from BW, and most people related to the canal and not living on a boat and taking notice of what's going on, has a clue about the realities of living on a boat and the harassment/persecution that the 'enforcement' entails.
That leaves very few people so it is necessary to explain what is happening as background to any complaint. That is also necessary in any court action and doesn't appear to happen. If you have a barrister he is doing all the talking and he hasn't got a clue because he hasn't been properly briefed and you, the client, cannot communicate with him directly, in most cases, (certainly in my case). Many barristers boast of reading the brief for the first time on the day of the hearing. That, alone, shows you what a disgraceful farce the legal process is in the way that it is abused by the practitioners.
This has been edited, by removal not addition, as the correspondence and complaint file is 100 pages long.
The 'NOTES' have been added in the editing.
THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE RULES.
Once upon a time there were Patrol Officers. I assumed that their function was to deal with any problems that arose on the canals and on the towpath that couldn't be dealt with by those other 'custodians' of the canals such as myself. Increasingly I came to realise that that was not the case and that their job was to pursue people who, in some way, are in apparent breach of the above mentioned rules. Problems of anti-social behaviour and other threats to safety and security of people on the canal or towpath were ' not their problem ' .
When their job title was changed from Patrol Officer to Enforcement Officer there was no longer any doubt. Their job is to harass people who live on boats and neither need nor want a mooring ( or who want a mooring but none are available ) at the behest of the office staff, who deal with moorings, and who target people, or areas, in response to spurious complaints, or out of vindictiveness directed against anyone who has 'challenged' them.
[NOTE: This change - to Enforcement Officers - was in 2007 with the implementation of the new policy of driving people into marinas or off the waterways.]
Boaters are to be driven onto towpath moorings ( unlawful ) or marina moorings ( unsafe and generally unacceptable ) and 'winter moorings' which means being charged for mooring on the towpath, as if there is any choice, in the winter months when there are widespread canal stoppages and the canals are deserted. Payment is demanded in much the same way as payment is demanded by wheelclampers who have locked you in a carpark prior to clamping your car.
[NOTE: Marina moorings are also 'unlawful' having no planning permission.]
'Overstaying' - staying for more than 14 days in one place or more than 48 hours on one of the, increasingly spreading and unnecessary, 48 hour mooring sites - will result in a notice telling you to 'continue your journey'. You then receive a letter ( as enclosed ) threatening legal action and suggesting that you obtain legal advice and contact the Benefit and Housing Department to find another place to live.
I have received such a letter in the depths of winter when the canals are deserted, apart from those of us who maintain a useful presence, when I was in dispute with the local office, having been 'targeted' for 'challenging' a 'moorings officer' who quoted the 'required movement' as being from 'parish to parish', and having stated that I needed to be in the area for ongoing medical appointments.
Numerous other people with health problems or medical appointments have also received such letters and suffered considerable distress and anxiety. Some have agreed to pay for unlawful 'moorings' on the towpath, essentially paying for nothing other than to be 'left alone' and not harassed further, while others continue to play 'hide and seek' with the Enforcement Officers and move around within the area, which is actually what most people do most of the time.
These are people who own their boats, pay a licence, have probably, as in my case, travelled around the canals for years and then, due to the inevitable process of ageing or the intervention of an 'illness', require, on occasion, the use of medical facilities or have other perfectly good reasons to be in one area as opposed to being on a continuous, and unnecessary, journey embracing the entire canal network. That, according to British Waterways is 'unreasonable' and is used by the 'target chasing ' bureaucrats as a means of applying extra pressure on them to take a so-called 'mooring' , which they neither want nor need, and which means a mooring in a marina as online moorings are being 'phased out' .
It has been suggested to me that if I have occasional need of medical facilities perhaps I should consider living elsewhere other than on a boat. I'm not in imminent danger of dying. I've just been having a series of blood tests etc. as I had an illness a couple of years ago and now have some regular medication. As most people on the canals are aged over 50 it can be assumed that occasional medical treatment / intervention is not uncommon. We all get ill and we can all suffer accidents and we are all entitled to medical and other social facilities without any requirement that we take up a permanent mooring.
Perhaps you should inform people that if they come on to the canals they must forgo the right to medical treatment and if, in the course of their never ending 'journey around the network', they fall ill or have an accident which interferes with this 'compulsory journey' they must leave the canal or be subject to the harassment and intimidation leading to, threatened, legal action that constitutes the 'enforcement of the rules'. I think you will find that the canals then become remarkably empty except, of course, for the 'happy campers' in the boat clubs who, of course, are the main instigators of your rules and are pulling the strings of your ill-informed office staff.
The Enforcement Officers are 'controlled' by office staff, invariably women in my experience, who have no knowledge of the waterways or of living on a boat, who appear to regard people who live on boats as some kind of criminal lowlife who should be 'hounded' at every opportunity and who only gain some acceptability if living permanently on a mooring. The concept of 'living on a boat' as a way of life is totally outside their understanding...........
Here are some examples of their behaviour.
Generally threatening people who are in the area for reasons of medical appointments and other necessary commitments by insisting that they 'continue their journey' around the network. Causing considerable distress to people by their inflexible interpretation of the, already, unreasonable rules because someone has upset them by pointing out their ignorance of their own rules and, therefore, become a target leading to the targetting of everyone in that area.
Targetting means the issuing of ridiculously threatening notices and regular patrols by uniformed enforcement officers so as to intimidate anyone stopping in that area regardless of how long they stay. The intention is, purely, to harass and intimidate at considerable cost to British Waterways, and therefore to all of us, and to no useful purpose whatever as no useful purpose is served by chasing people around the area or network.
My experience of this ' targetting ' was last winter, 2007/2008 . A 'Moorings Officer' from the office had, unusually, ventured on to the towpath and was explaining to someone that they had to move from 'parish to parish' etc and I explained to her that that 'rule' had been superseded several years ago. The following day two uniformed officers appeared and told everyone there to move.
[NOTE: There never was a rule mentioning parish to parish. It is an oft quoted myth.]
A ridiculous, and typical, overreaction to being challenged (correctly) by a 'lowly boatperson'. This continued throughout the winter ( i.e. when the canals are virtually deserted ) with demands being made for, so-called 'winter moorings' i.e. charges made for mooring on the towpath in the winter when there are 'stoppages' and very few boats are moving and when we become, essentially, not just 'targets' but 'sitting targets'.
I had meetings with Mrs. Sharman who appeared to agree with most of what I said with regard to the absurdity of the 'rules' when I explained to her what they actually were. I still, however, received further threatening letters referring to legal action, as did another person on a boat who has health problems necessitating his being in the area. This person was caused considerable anxiety and reluctantly agreed to pay to moor on the towpath because of the stress of the victimisation. The letter sent to him to confirm his agreement to paying for a 'mooring' was included in a letter to me, obviously as a spur to 'encouraging' me to agree also.
[NOTE: Julie Sharman was the area manager for the waterway. We had several useful meetings but they stopped and I then received threats to move and discussion was terminated. This was shortly after a visit by Robin Evans (CEO).]
Mrs. Sharman then came for a 'cup of tea' , as invited by me and apologised for this 'mistake' and we, effectively, agreed to a 'truce'. I was then about to embark on the complaints Procedure but didn't as I wanted to see if there would be a change of attitude from the Office.
During the summer there was a rally of the IWA Chester Branch at Anderton. I am a member of the IWA Chester Branch and I know that it consists mainly of members of the Shropshire Union Canal Society who are also members of various boat clubs in the area. I know that the SUCS strongly dislike people who live on boats and do not have a mooring. I know this from personal experience and from information from members of staff of BW. I know that they regularly give the names of boats to BW that they regard as committing the appalling 'crime' of 'overstaying'. I know that they have the 'ears' of the women in the Northwich Office who unquestioningly respond to their complaints and entreaties, particularly with regard to the accursed 'liveaboards'. I know they would like to 'pollute' the Northwich area with their unneccesary 48 hour moorings, as they have the Shropshire Union and Middlewich Branch, so as to 'obstruct' people who live on boats and don't use the canal solely for weekend picnics but can only 'interfere' on the Trent and Mersey through their membership of the IWA Chester Branch.
On the Monday after the rally several boats, members of the IWA and SUCS, passed the place where I was moored on their way home. Knowing their proclivities I did wonder how long it would be before we received a visit from the hapless 'Enforcers' sent by the Office in response to reports of sightings of 'renegade' boaters moored on the towpath in possible defiance of the sacred rules of 'eternal wandering''.
About three hours later an 'Enforcement Officer' appeared having been urgently summoned from his location on the Macclesfield Canal to go to Marston and move on the errant itinerants. A coincidence? I think not.
This visit involved the taking of numbers. The next visit was on the Wednesday, two days later, and a particular boat received a notice to 'continue his journey'. This person was particularly distressed as he is at pains to avoid the unwelcome attention of BW and had been in contact with them since having a stroke a few months earlier and, subsequently, having regular medical appointments and regular prescriptions. He was also looking after the boat of a friend who was in hospital with bowel cancer.
The women in the Office were fully aware of this as there had been regular contact between the wife of the person with cancer and themselves and 'permission' had been given for their boat to stay there and the other person to look after it. I was also moored nearby, sensibly and reasonably, keeping an eye on both boats/people while doing some work on my boat. The person in receipt of the notice phoned the Office and spoke to the particular woman involved who said she was not aware of any arrangement and that he should move on. On pointing out that he would have to tow the other boat behind him she was still insistent that he move.
The victim of this unnecessary, vindictive and indefensible abuse was insistent that he move to avoid further harassment despite my advice that he ignore this further example of British Waterways Persecution Policy as enacted by the mindless, dehumanised, blinkered bureaucrats of the Office so I helped him move the two boats to 'another place' ....... ........
A 65 year old man who had recently suffered a stroke and was looking after the boat of a person who was suffering from what, subsequently, proved to be terminal cancer, was made to move the two boats despite a previous arrangement that was apparently superseded by the whining entreaties of a member or members of a club/society that is regarded by the minions of the BW Office as having some 'authority' over the rest of us. That is the result of your mindlessly stupid 'rules' and your consigning of the 'enforcement' of those rules to people for whom no reasonable, intelligent, thinking person could possibly have one ounce of respect........
As the prognosis of the person with the illness became gradually worse and he, therefore, could not return to his boat the response of BW to the situation was to say that they would have to pay for a mooring.
As this person's wife was suffering the stress of having her husband die a slow and painful death in front of her with nothing anyone could do and, consequently, was in no state of mind to deal with problem's relating to their boat, which was why we were looking after it, she tried to find a mooring in a marina so that she would not have to worry about it and, also, not have to worry about any further problems for the person looking after it. ( I was looking after it as well, and keeping an eye on the situation, unofficially, because I considered it the right thing to do.)
She was unable to find a mooring anywhere having looked on the internet so was told she could pay to moor where the boat was currently situated i.e. on the towpath where we were looking after it. This raised the question - if they paid a mooring for the boat where it was would the people looking after it also have to pay a mooring for their correct and considerate behaviour ? And if those people weren't there would the boat be safe ? No it wouldn't.
To avoid further harassment she came from Anglesey to Marston to move the boat near to another person who had been harassed into paying for a 'mooring' on the towpath ( forget about official mooring sites and waiting lists and Dutch auctions and E- bay type auctions for moorings they'll take your money anywhere ) and agreed to pay about £20 per week until such time as she was able to attend to the problem of what to do with the boat........
Another triumph for the good women of the Moorings and Enforcement department of British Waterways. Another box ticked. Another bonus coming their way. Another 'day at the office'.
[NOTE: In the 'old days', when many of you weren't on the waterways, this sort of thing would never have happened. BW were helpful to people 'in distress' as most of the rest of us were. I get angry about this abuse because I know it never used to happen and recognise the drastic, and draconian, change.]
I was still moored in the area as I was working on my boat and was on about my twelfth medical appointment of the year. There was constant pointless patrolling and number taking i.e. when viewed in the wider context - harassment. What the people in the office fail to realise is that the 'Enforcement Officers' have as low an opinion of them as we do and ignore their instructions not to 'chat' to us. Hence we were informed that , to their bemusement and ours, they had to 'collect' 80 boat numbers a day - any boats whether they were moored or moving. They failed to see the point of it and neither could we. Still, I suppose it gives them a job. Pity we have to pay for it.
[NOTE: I refer to enforcement officers who were, subsequently forced out, or left, because they were not prepared to harass people as instructed by the 'office' and their denouncing 'volunteers' in the boat clubs. They wanted 'nasty' people who would do anything with no conscience and had no interest in the waterways or the people on them. They recruited women. One was Helen Waterman whose witness evidence is on the site.]
Meanwhile I had also received another notice of impending legal action and homelessness. I wrote to Mrs.Sharman to arrange a meeting to discuss 'the current situation regarding the abuse and harassment of people living on boats'. We had a meeting on the 22nd of September where she defended the above mentioned unacceptable behaviour of her staff so I informed her that I would have to take my complaints to a wider audience to try to elicit a suitable considered response to the systematised abuse that is the management policy of British Waterways.
Hence I am making this complaint so that it can be considered by the Ombudsman and other parties that might be affronted by the unlawful abuse of individuals, including vulnerable people such as the sick and the elderly, for reasons of prejudice and financial extortion with a view to, supposedly, some ridiculous idea of privatisation of the waterways as an adjunct to a property developing 'empire' that only requires boats as part of the scenery and to add 'value' to the property price. I think those plans may have been thwarted in the current economic climate. Oh dear. How sad.
The complaint I made regarding the person who had to move his boat and tow the other one was disregarded as the people themselves did not complain and I did not represent them. I never claimed to represent them but am still entitled to complain. They didn't complain as they felt harassed and intimidated and had other more serious concerns. They have actually complained to me quite a lot.
[NOTE: I received a letter stating, 'I don't understand why you are so protective of other people'.]
Unfortunately that is the way on the canals, people complain constantly to each other but never get round to making a formal complaint. They can't be bothered and, quite honestly, neither can I but I consider that things have got so bad that I have no choice. I will not tolerate abuse of people rendered ' vulnerable ' by circumstances and I will not tolerate bullying. I just want to live a quiet life which is satisfying to me and no problem to anyone else but that has, unfortunately, become impossible on the canals and for absolutely no good reason but merely at the whim of an incompetent self - serving bureaucracy of time - serving harridans and the lobbying meddlers from boat clubs and also some hire boat operators.
I wrote a letter to Mrs. Sharman stating that I would proceed with the Complaints Procedure having spoken to the Ombudsman about the process. This letter was taken by Mrs. Sharman to be the complaint and was answered as such so this is actually the first written expression of my complaint. I also wrote a letter to Simon Salem in response to the consutation on licence increases.
Meanwhile, back to the present on the, apparently, tranquil, but frozen, waters of the Trent and Mersey Canal. More patrolling. More patrol people employed for the winter. More money wasted. More harassment. More ill will. Canal frozen. More interference with my life as I have to write all this. More patrol notices, including ones issued three weeks before Christmas ( which I did comment on in a letter about the disgusting state of the Anderton toilet block/facilities that are apparently only cleaned regularly in the summer months as cleaning the toilets, next to a marina with about forty or so people living in it and constantly using the facilities, is a 'seasonal job' ).
I also noted that keys to this facility are being handed out to 'ramblers' as well as being primarily used by people living in a marina, whereas, we, the eternal scapegoats of the canals, are to be charged extra for our excessive use of the said facilities. And then 'tis Christmas. The season of goodwill.
Christmas Eve afternoon. Another number taking patrol. What possible reason could there be for that other than as another demonstration of the 'we're watching you' harassment practice of the Yuletide Fairies of the Office. They send a recently employed young woman around (Helen Waterman), on her own, into a situation that would be regarded by many as provocative and potentially confrontational as they well know. I explained this to the young woman and told her that I believed she was being used as 'bait' in the hope that there would be a confrontational situation with person on a boat - preferably me as I am number one target........
So, as I say, I gave her some friendly advice and, also, told her we were keeping an eye on James who had flu. James, 73 years old, on boat on his own, normally moves every 14 days to the day as he does not want trouble from BW ( although I advise him not to ). On 28th December James developed severe breathing difficulties and confusion. He was unable to concentrate to use his mobile phone and, eventually, crawled along the towpath to the boat moored next to him. An ambulance was called and we moved his boat to the nearest easy access place. He was taken to Leighton Hospital.
On the 30th December he phoned to say he was being sent home although he didn't feel well. His boat had been moved back to where it was previously so we moved it nearer to the access point and lit his fire. The weather was cold and there was ice on the canal. He came back in the late afternoon. The following morning we looked in on him and he was in a terrible state so I immediately called an ambulance.
If James had been well on the 24th of December when the 'Enforcement Officer' came around ( to wish us all merry Christmas and hand out the mince pies ) he would have moved, probably to ' the Flashes '. Probably no-one else there and about a mile from the nearest road. He would now be dead. Why would he be dead ? Because he felt intimidated by British Waterways and that 'fear' overrode the rational decision to moor in a safe place in the winter close to facilities and to other people.
[NOTE: James is still on the canal, now in his eighties. Been given a 6 month licence for not moving enough though he has moved quite a lot. It worries him. He is afraid of losing his boat and he wants to remain on his boat 'til he is unable to manage it - which doesn't require pointless journeys to satisfy some arbitrary rule that, if applied, should be applied with consideration and compassion. CRT, and their enforcement staff, do not possess such qualities.
He phoned 'the office' to ask how far he was required to move (this in last couple of weeks). He spoke to a woman who said, '69 miles'. That is completely untrue and is an example of the arbitrary 'bullshit' that flows from 'the office'.
He went, on his own, to Leigh on the other side of the Bridgewater Canal. He phoned in every 2 days to say where he was.
If he continues like this he won't survive the winter.]
As a public body British Waterways has a duty to exercise it's power reasonably in all circumstances.
I consider that as human beings we all have a duty to behave considerately to one another.
Unfortunately that attitude can get you into a lot of trouble in the 'abuse culture' in which we live. Being 'protective' of others is a serious offence.
About 10 minutes after the ambulance left two 'Enforcement Officers' came along the towpath taking boat numbers.
New Year's Eve. Canal frozen. The coldest December for several years. Most people here have coughs etc. There is a lot of flu, bronchitis and pneumonia about. There is much, in the news, about older people not keeping warm enough due to increases in fuel costs. Most people on the canal are in the category 'older people'
We generate our own electricity by running our engines to charge our batteries. There has just been a large increase in the cost of diesel due to an increase in the duty on 'red' diesel. Maybe British Waterways have sent people to see if we are all all right. They haven't. They have come to ' move us on ' .
You do not travel in the ice unless absolutely necessary and, then, only if the ice is not too thick. You cannot easily moor in ice as you cannot get to the side. You cannot do locks in the ice as you can't open the gates. It is also extremely dangerous as there is ice on the ground. British Waterways are, of course, ignorant of all this as most of them have never been on a boat in their lives.
No one was working at BW over the New Year. I can, therefore, only conclude that these Enforcement Officers were being paid overtime at, at no doubt double or triple time, to make a 'harassment' visit on New Year's Eve. This is public money, and our licence money, that is being spent on criminal harassment and abuse of customers of a public authority that has such a lack of funds that it claims it cannot maintain the canals.
[NOTE: They came to provoke me. They knew it would annoy me. They wanted me to 'asault' them. I didn't. They, subsequently, submitted, to the court, a false account of an argument that never happened. A detailed argument full of obscenities which is not how I speak, or argue. It was submitted without my knowledge. I wasn't informed I saw it 2 days before my 'trial' along with the other hundreds of pages of submissions. It was not submitted as a witness statement - a sworn statement - but just as a written account. It would have been, of course, submitted to senior staff at CRT to paint a false picture of a madman they had to deal with. Along with this were other falsified and exaggerated statements and it was noted that was 'violent and abusive and a danger to women'. I was protecting women, and others, from their abuse.
This false evidence will have been compiled on the advice of Shoosmiths who advise on the enforcement process. They, routinely, use 'character assassination' as part of their method. They seek to discredit the person they are acting against. They also use 'entrapment' so provoke the 'target' into something they can call assault. Tap someone on the shoulder to say 'calm down' and they will call it assault.]
We have had several 'harassment' visits since, and people, some in their seventies, have been given Enforcement Notices for not having moved over Christmas and New Year when the canal was frozen. One person, aged 78, I repeat, aged 78, who has moved around the canal for years was given a notice, like the one given to me, threatening the revoking of his licence in 14 days. He has a wooden boat, as I do, and you definitely don't move in the ice in a wooden boat. His drive shaft is disconnected and is being repaired. He explained this to the 'Enforcement Officers', two women who have just been employed ( three altogether ) to harass the few people on the canal in the winter. They, nevertheless, gave him an Enforcement Notice.
[NOTE: This person's wooden boat sank below Wood Lock (or Wood End lock?) above Fradley when hitting the obstruction that I believe has been their for years. (CRT don't remove any obstacles in the the canal. They sold off all the dredgers years ago.)
He got to Fradley and it sank on the moorings above Dark Lock.
He has another boat. He is in this area. He is now 85. He travels a lot which is to be admired at his age. He was told he could only have a 3 month licence. He is awaiting a hernia operation. He had to provide a doctors note. He has been given a 6 month licence. He has been asked for updates from one office. He received a threatening letter threatening to remove his boat from another office. (This is about 2 weeks ago). He is going to the hospital this week and should have the operation this month.]
This is being done with your consent and approval.
Another person explained to them that he couldn't move as the canal was frozen and that, anyway, there were 'canal stoppages' that prevented him from going on the obligatory 'never ending journey' around the network. They explained that he could move between here and Preston Brook, about 8 miles. He said that that would be what they call 'bridge hopping'. They insisted that he take the Enforcement Notice but he refused it.
The next person was told he had been here for a month. He hadn't. He told them that he had been on the Bridgewater canal throughout the Christmas / New Year period and, generally, moves about quite a lot. They said he was a 'bridgehopper' and gave him an 'Enforcement Notice'. When I say 'he' I mean a couple with a small child. Threatened with eviction in a 'cold and icy winter' for being somewhere over Christmas and the New Year when he was actually not even there and had been on the Bridgewater Canal which is a separate canal authority.
END OF EXTRACT
This should give you an idea of why I made complaints and was not prepared to go off on the 'progressive journey', as was demanded by BW, and backed up by enforcement notices.
I had medical appointments. Others with medical problems, or requiring some access to medical facilities, were being targetted, harassed and threatened. I was in discussion to bring these abuses to the attention of the manager in an attempt to bring an end to such blatant harassment and persecution. I was, trying to, protect vulnerable people from unacceptable and 'anti -social behaviour from BW staff.
Response? I had to be 'got rid of. I was, actually, offered a mooring at Norbury Junction. On the Shropshire Union in Staffordshire. The first indication that they were wanting to drive all 'liveaboards' out of Cheshire. (Others have been told, since, to 'Get out of Cheshire'). Also, around this time, all of the towpath moorings were closed other than for those boats already on them.
This 'purge' on 'liveaboards' without an 'accepted' mooring, which appears to mean a marina mooring, extends to the Cheshire West Council. We are classified as 'travellers'. Cheshire, with good reason, doesn't encourage travellers. We are not, actually, 'travellers' which, in our case, means 'New Age Travellers', and which will probably have many interpretations and seems to be, wrongly, applied to anyone boat clubs, leisure boaters etc., don't like the look of. Having a wooden boat, I was a suitable 'candidate' in the North West area.
The people BW/CRT take to court are travellers or appear to be travellers or are said to be travellers. There has been a multi-agency purge on 'New Age Travellers' since 1992. Courts will be advised of this. Any challenge to BW/CRT rules that might facilitate the aims of travellers will fail. The Judge will be considering 'opening the floodgates'. In my case he used that expression several times. There will be 'instruction from above'.
The refusal to disclose certain aspects of my case 'in the public interest' I believe, probably, relates to that.
When asked by the Judge why it was so necessary to remove me from the waterways, Shoosmiths barrister replied, 'Mr. Mayers is a member of a certain community comprising of ........... (here he mentioned a few names including Paul Davies).
They are guaranteed to win if the case appears to be traveller related.
This is why,as I have told them, the good done by the Bargee Travellers Association is outweighed by the impression given, and their contention, that we are all travellers.
It, also, doesn't help that we are regarded, in European Law, as travellers.
According to 'officialdom', we are lower down the list of rights and benefits etc. than if we were homeless.
I believe this to be correct and explains CRT's confidence that they will win these cases. They didn't like the Judge in my case insisting on an agreed undertaking to allow me to remain on the waterways. They appeared to expect me to go into a marina and never come out.
Perhaps someone would care to investigate this or ask some pertinent questions. It may save a lot of wasted effort, time and money. As well as further needless distress to more hapless victims.
The next extract relates to the Human Rights Act.