Testimonial

An account of the abuse of people living on boats on the waterways by the Canal and River Trust, previously British Waterways.   Then a Public Authority, now part Public Body, part Charity.   In receipt of public funds and public donations.  The account is based around the story of me and my boat Pearl, a converted Thomas Clayton tar boat built 1935.  It's not about me it's about them and their deliberate persecution of people, particularly 'vulnerable' people, who live on boats, and those who collude with them for their own selfish interests, and those authorities that allow them to get away with it.     

You don't have to live on a boat to find it alarming.    

Pearl and me - pictures and more about 'abuse'.

 Onto the River Weaver from the Anderton Lift.

Here is evidence that I, actually, moved around - or 'navigated - on Pearl, as opposed to being constantly moored in one place as the miserabilists and, would-be, 'policemen', of the waterways would have you believe.   

I travelled around on my boat as you would expect to be able to do by paying a licence to the Waterway Authority and not creating a 'nuisance'. In the beginning there were no absurd rules telling you where to go and restricting your, reasonable and rightful, freedom of movement. This came later with the 'empowerment' of Sally Ash and her commitment to destroy the 'waterway way of life' - assisted, of course, by those whose use is different from mine, in Boat Clubs and the hireboat business.   

The rules of 'continuous cruising' were, initially, according to Sally Ash, to be 'administered with a light touch and no-one should be concerned'. They became the basis of a persecution policy enforced as if actual law and applied with recourse to court action - and manipulation/corruption of the court process -  leading to the seizing (unlawful) of people's boats and their being made homeless.

Read article 12 - Judge's comments on seizing your boat and more contradictory unlawful behaviour in the enforcement process.  

Unlawful, punitive, actions in breach of the obligations of a Public Authority, in breach of the Human Rights Act, and, unreasonable and spiteful in the extreme. Introduced because the boat clubs thought our use of the waterways was 'not fair' because, as we moved around, and lived on our boats, we didn't need a 'mooring', i.e. a secure place to leave the boat, which they need as they don't live on their boats. Consequently, in their 'logic', and that of Sally Ash, who unlawfully represented their views and endorsed, and encouraged, the view that those living on boats were somehow acting unreasonably and not 'paying their way', we became 'pariahs' subject to intrusive, and unlawful, rules unless we paid for a 'mooring' that we didn't need and wouldn't use. I was expected to pay for a 70ft mooring I wouldn't use, and the mooring provider could rent that mooring to someone else. Which, of course, is very fair.  Or my boat movement was to be prescribed by ludicrous rules stating, among other things, that I had to travel in the same direction and not turn round and go back to where I had been but had to continuously travel to places I had no wish, or reason, to go to to satisfy mindnumbingly illiberal rules and the mindnumbing idiocy of Sally Ash and her promoters and supporters.

And lots of people thought, and still think, that that is reasonable and endorsed these intrusive and punitive restrictions of the free movement of boat owning, licence paying individuals which tells you something about the sort of people on the canals these days and those who are supposed to be the custodians of the canals and should be, and were obliged to be as a public authority, acting in the interests of all canal users and not just the organised users in the boat clubs and hire companies - and, increasingly - in marinas.    

Legions of people who still think, and argue, years after the introduction of this nonsense and it's, increasingly, draconian revisions, that this is right and reasonable - and fair. Is there no limit to peoples' blinkered stupidity and lack of fundamental human decency, and moral judgement, in support of their own, perceived, self interest?

Meanwhile, here are some pictures to show that I moved about and did not, as CRT, and others, would have you (and the Court) believe, sit in one place for 23 years

I had a serious illness with some psychological and physical consequences, and from which I should have died, but it was not considered 'reasonable in the circumstances' that I stay in the area while having medical investigations.  I didn't need to stay in one place just stay in the area. 

I didn't look ill - because I had worked at recovering my physical fitness - and, of course, depression and anxiety can be 'cured' by a 'good slap'. Therefore, according to the women in the office, I didn't have a problem. These women who, routinely, asked for details of people's health problems, which they have no right to do, and decided how many days they could 'overstay' and hounded them with complete disregard for their problems - such as just having come out of hospital after a heart bypass, having had a stroke, having a partner in hospital etc.    I know personally of several instances like this - which I complained about - and have heard of dozens more and have no doubt that there are hundreds of instances of such abuse. Still going on in the Cheshire area. 

But the 'women in the office' achieve their targets, get their bonus and buy more shoes so everything's fine. The boxes are ticked, the 'non-contributing', 'non-compliant' submensch have been harassed as required and those being paid to do this have been further rewarded for perpetrating the abuse and have now got MORE SHOES.           

Those of you who weren't in the Northwich area, or under the jurisdiction of the Northwich office, don't realise what a disgusting regime was in place. All women, none with a clue about boats, waterways or even the rules they were supposed to enforce. United in their dislike of people who lived on boats and targeting anyone who challenged them, i.e. corrected them, or who were reported to them by certain boat clubs and the Shropshire Union Canal Society.  

SUCS were also able to choose where to put 48 hour moorings and had an agreement that if they put rings in BW would make it a 48 hour mooring. That's why anywhere you can moor a boat on the Shropshire Union Canal is a 48 hour mooring. (And anywhere they want to moor on a weekend). This then spread to the rest of the system with SUCS members instructing boat clubs in the methods of installing rings. Also, the 'spying' on boaters for reward in the name of 'volunteering' as practiced in the area, became official policy.   

Actively targeting one group of boaters for harassment by other, more easily organised, groups and making that official policy. Sally Ash, implementing this when CRT was BW, a Public Authority, thereby being guilty of misconduct in public office and discrimination.  AWCC having the stated aim of getting everyone to pay for a mooring even if they don't have one and APCO organising a petition to do the same. 

And, of course, Sally Ash having a financial interest in the hireboat business.  

Plus, as I was told, refusing to listen to individual boaters complaints but only those from user groups, who are all stuffed with people from boat clubs and all useless.

   

 

   

   Gloucester Docks  1992.  

 

River Severn  1992

 

      

Tyrley Locks 1992  

 

 Stoke Bruerne

When you are on your own on a boat and you feel the need to take photographs they all look like this.  You soon get bored with it. But, now, I'm quite glad I did take them. This was my life.   

You get the picture.    

Of course I was living this difficult and insecure life purely to avoid council tax (actually part of the licence) and, as Christopher Moss, Shoosmiths barrister, said to avoid paying for a mooring. The attitude is that we are 'not contributing' by not paying for a mooring (which we don't have and don't need and wouldn't use and doesn't exist) and 'avoiding payment for a mooring'. Clearly, then the rules applying to us, and differing from those applied to those with a home mooring, are intended to be punitive and a 'punishment' and not to reflect an alternative and, legitimate, use of your boat.   

 

   The Stourbridge 16 

 

The Anderton Lift 

 

 

 

 This is where I was moored when issued with the notice to 'continue my journey' on December 9th 2009 - a week before the canal froze to a thickness of over 12 inches.

The notice was maliciously issued as I had recently 'challenged' the enforcement android (and had 2 years of meetings and complaint procedure, including a complaint to the Ombudsman, and been refused an answer relating to unlawfulness of 'the rules' - particularly the continuous journey.).

The Ombudsman is 'controlled' by the Ombudsman Committee. One member of the committee was Sally Ash. There is absolutely no independence  - she was told what to say, and not say.  I was told I would have to take them to court to get an answer. A typical arrogant dismissal like all the other refusals to answer my questions. I, quite reasonably, and justifiably, said you had better take me to court as I can't possibly take BW to court.   

Had I moved I would have been a long way from facilities, including water, for over 6 weeks and would have put myself at risk. I decide what is best for me and my boat, as should anyone on a boat, not some stupid young woman who, by her own admission in court, knows nothing about boats or the waterways and has had no training. (And has targets for issuing enforcement notices and Section 8 notices and has a history of wrongly issuing enforcement notices and lying as has Jill Overum who is  in charge of Enforcement/harassment in the northern area).  

When British Waterways transferred to charity status they wanted it to be a criminal offence to refuse to obey the directions of an enforcement officer. 

There is no effective challenge to their tyranny by any, so called 'user group'.   Only concerted action by those living on boats can have any effect and that can only happen where there are a lot of boats e.g. London but their arguments are not, necessarily, the same as mine and the most prominent arguments are more related to the rights of 'travellers' than individuals living on boats. In fact, their arguments and demands do more harm than good as they are not representative of people who genuinely want to live on a boat and travel around in a reasonable manner not subject to arbitrary and incomprehensible 'rules' and gestapo-like surveillance and interference.

I have no agenda and have no involvement in campaigns as I consider the better days have gone and the waterways environment and the majority of the people on the waterways no longer interest me.