Witness evidence of Helen Waterman, Enforcement Officer.
This questioning was on the second day of the trial in the afternoon. (The previous day had been a 'reading day' for the Judge).
I had no opportunity to discuss, with Counsel, questions that should be asked.
(Please note that the recording on the second tape was of poor quality, muffled and with background noise. We have, therefore, used our best efforts to transcribe the evidence contained therein.)
HELEN WATERMAN – Affirmed
Examined by MR. MOSS
Q. Miss Waterman, could you state your full name, please?
A. Helen Waterman.
Q. If I could ask you to turn to page 65, it should be open at the right page for you.
Q. Is that the first statement you made in the course of these proceedings?
Q. Could you please turn to page 72?
Q. Is that your signature at the end of that statement?
Q. Is this statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Q. I am very grateful. Could I also ask you to turn to page 100 (it is just behind tab 17)?
Q. Is that the second statement you have made in the course of these proceedings?
Q. If you flick to the end of the statement, which is at page 104…
Q. …is that your signature at the end of the statement?
Q. Is this statement true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
NOTE: [Neither of these statements were written by Helen Waterman. Her knowledge, and literacy, are not sufficient to have written them. I would think they were written by Nigel Johnson.].
Q. (to the judge) Your Honour, I have no supplementary questions. I wonder if Miss Waterman may be seated.
THE JUDGE: Of course she may. All witnesses may sit, stand or oscillate between the two. It is up to you; I do not mind.
A. Thank you, sir.
Q. If you want better facilities for sitting at a desk, we can arrange that as well. Right, Mr Stark.
Cross-examined by MR. STARK
Q. Miss Waterman, you say your main function is dealing with licence and mooring permit evasion. Evasion is quite a strong word, is it not, for someone who cannot continue to (inaudible)?
THE JUDGE: Does that really matter? I am sorry. Do forgive me.
MR. STARK: I am sorry, your Honour—
THE JUDGE: What (inaudible)?
MR. STARK: The point that I am—
THE JUDGE: We have got four days for this, not four weeks. What is the point in attacking the semantics? She is responsible for people who do not pay their licence fees. Your client cannot pay his licence fees because his licence was revoked and they have not asked him for any fees.
MR. STARK: I am seeking to draw attention to the difference between someone who is deliberately evading and someone who is incapable of—
THE JUDGE: Well, he cannot pay his licence fee because they have not asked him for one; they will not give him a licence. The meaning of the word evasion or whether it is a strong or weak work is completely irrelevant. What I do not want in this case is I do not want the emotional temperature raised any more than it must be. I appreciate that your lay client has very strong feelings on the subject and I sympathise with that, but I do not want the temperature raised in the court. (to the witness) Can I just ask a few questions while counsel is recovering from my being a bit rude to him?
Q. For which I apologise but I have got to get this trial on its feet. How much pressure is there for use of this part of the relevant canal, the Trent and Mersey?
A. How do you mean, sir?
Q. Well, the Trent and Mersey runs, as its name implies, from the Mersey to the Trent through the Pennines.
Q. It has got a lot of locks going up into the Pennines and a lot of locks coming down the other side, and that bit through the Pennines is probably quite pretty.
Q. There is probably quite a lot of pressure, particularly in the summer, from people who want to do the route, but where is he in relation to the length of the canal? Whereabouts is he moored at the moment?
NOTE: Without background information submitted to the court, which I had written, the Judge has little understanding of the overall scenario limiting his ability to arrive at a well-reasoned decision. He thought I was, exclusively, on the Trent and Mersey Canal
A. Bridge 193.
Q. Where is that?
A. Northwich area.
Q. So it is not the world’s most attractive area. He is not a million miles from the Anderton boat lift then?
Q. Which is itself in an industrial area just outside Northwich – the Anderton boat lift.
A. Yeah, but it is quite woodland-y.
Q. It is quite…?
A. Quite woodland-y, quite—
Q. Yes, the Trent/Mersey is the upper canal at the Anderton boat lift, is it not?
Q. How far is he from the Anderton lift?
A. A mile/mile and a half.
Q. Right. Incidentally, you do boat trips up and down the lift, do you not? There is a boat that does nothing but go from the top of the Anderton lift to the bottom and back up again.
A. Yeah, it does a trip round the Weaver.
Q. Round the Weaver, yes.
A. Yeah, a boat trip up the Weaver navigation.
Q. Right. Thank you. Is there much pressure for use of that stretch of the canal? Are there a lot of boats using it?
A. Bridge 193 would be one of my hot spots; it’s quite a popular mooring site due to the 14 days that you get there.
Q. You can stay there for up to 14 days?
Q. Does it have any facilities for emptying sewage, or—
Q. —electricity, or anything like that?
A. That’s all at Anderton.
Q. That is at Anderton?
Q. Right. Thank you. Yes, Mr Stark?
MR. STARK: Can I ask, Miss Waterman, I am right (inaudible)? Do you have experience of anything but the two types of licence: the home mooring and the continuous cruising licence? Is there any other permission given to (inaudible)?
A. How do you mean, experience?
Q. Well, there may be other licences that you have come across.
Q. Unless someone has a home mooring, they must comply with the continuous cruising licence.
Q. Are there any home moorings on the section of canal where Mr Mayers’ boat is currently placed?
A. There’s a mooring location just under the bridge.
NOTE: [These moorings, alongwith all towpath moorings in the area , were closed down about 5 or 6 years ago].
THE JUDGE: No. Is there anybody with a home mooring permit for that stretch of canal anywhere along the length?
A. Not that I’m aware of.
Q. So no HM licences (home mooring licences) within—
A. Home mooring licences don’t (inaudible) – no official home mooring that I’m aware of.
Q. No official home mooring on that stretch of the canal. Is there a marina anywhere on the stretch?
A. Yes, two.
Q. Two marinas. Where are they?
A. Anderton – so you’ve got Anderton Marina and Uplands Marina.
Q. They are both at Anderton?
MR. STARK: Are you aware whether either of them has planning permission for residential use, long term residential use?
A. I’m not aware.
THE JUDGE: You do not know?
MR. STARK: Are you aware whether or not on the Trent and Mersey there are any online moorings with long term residential planning permission?
A. I’m not aware.
NOTE: There are no moorings with planning permission. I.e. they are all 'unlawful'. BW/CRT acknowledge they are unlawful. This legal action is about my challenging this, and other abuses, and being refused an answer. They have no answer. They know I'm right in what I say. I am required, under threat of seizure of my boat to take up an unlawful mooring where I will, as stated by BW/CRT, 'be liable to enforcement action by the Local Planning Authority'. These 'enforcement officers' are not even aware of this. They just issue enforcement notices to anyone who questions them i.e. upsets them and exposes their ignorance. To them it's 'just a game'. And it achieves the required targets. They are then 'backed up' by thousands of pounds worth of legal artifice using 'every trick in the book'.
Q. I asked Mr Johnson some questions about this before lunchtime and I passed up (which may still be before you) a flowchart in relation to continuous cruising. Is it still there?
A. No, not (inaudible). (handed) Thanks.
Q. Have you seen that guidance before?
A. I’m familiar with it, yeah.
Q. You are familiar with it. Is it the basis of how you adopt your important procedures?
Q. I am not going to ask you what the law means, but I am asking you what you have been in essence trained (inaudible). Is it right that the approach that you are told to take is that if someone has been in the same place for more than 14 days then you require in those circumstances for them to move on after the 14 days.
A. Yeah, it’s in the terms and conditions
Q. Yes. Were you aware that the Act actually says "for 14 days or such period as is reasonable in the circumstances"?
Q. Were you aware that it could be for longer than 14 days if reasonable in the circumstances?
A. We don’t normally hit them on the fourteenth day. We don’t sit for the exact fourteenth day; we always give them longer.
Q. You would give them a bit longer than 14 days?
A. Always, yeah.
THE JUDGE: How much longer?
A. It depends on the circumstances, workload.
Q. Well, what sort of period—?
A. What your workload is. We don’t purposely give them—
Q. Yes. Are we talking about three months before you actually do anything?
A. No. No, just days, maybe three weeks. It just depends on… We can’t get round everywhere as quick, so we are not like—
Q. Maybe three weeks, it depends on the circumstances.
A. Yes, we’re not strict hard-hitting – an hour after the fourteenth day we’re there saying, "You’ve got to move on."
Q. You are not like the parking wardens who are there waiting for the 20 minutes to expire—
Q. —before sticking the ticket on the car. Yes. All right.
MR. STARK: I am not asking (inaudible). What has been your understanding of what "reasonable in the circumstances" means?
A. What is what, sorry?
Q. What has been your understanding of what "reasonable in the circumstances" means?
A. What is reasonable?
Q. Yes. What would be reasonable to allow somebody to stay a bit longer?
A. We don’t really have a set period of time—
THE JUDGE: Let me suggest a few obvious points. If the boat has broken down and cannot be repaired within 14 days, are you going to let them stay there until they have got it repaired?
A. Yes, but that’s—
Q. If the canal is frozen and they physically cannot move the boat, are you going to let them stay there as long as the ice does not melt?
Q. If the person concerned is seriously ill and in hospital, you are not going to require them to move until they come out of hospital?
Q. So it would depend on the individual circumstances of each individual case?
A. Yeah, each boat is very individual.
MR. STARK: What if, however, someone said to you, "I can no longer comply with my continuous cruising licence because of my ill health"?
A. If they told me that, I would take it into consideration.
Q. You would take it into consideration? What does that mean?
A. Yeah, I’d go through to my supervisor and we’d discuss it and then take whatever action was needed.
Q. What action might be needed?
A. To give them—
Q. What power would you have?
A. Maybe give them an extended stay, and then you’d reassess it afterwards.
Q. How (inaudible) an extended stay? Would a failure to say to you, "Well, it’s permanent. I need to live round here now. I can’t (inaudible)—"?
A. Then I’d take that to my supervisor and I’d seek direction from them.
Q. You would seek direction from your supervisor?
A. Yeah, and they’d probably seek directions to move them.
Q. It would not be your decision to move them?
Q. In Mr Mayers’ case, you served the three letters that this procedure required you to serve.
Q. I think the first one was on 9th December, which (inaudible) before. Once you have started serving the letters, are you required to follow the procedure within a particular period of time – i.e. wait 28 days from sending to send the second letter, wait 28 days for the third letter – or can you take into account changes in circumstances as arise on the canal?
A. Yeah, we can take it that each boat’s individual, so there’s always individual—
Q. In 2009, I understand that you served a notice in December 2009, and then you served another one in January 2010, even though the boats had been iced in under that winter.
A. I didn’t serve it when it was iced over.
Q. But you asked him to explain why he had not been moving when you could see that for that period it was obvious why he had not been moving: because he had been iced in.
A. The letter that I served in January would have been the second continuous cruiser letter which it’s kind of reminding the boat owner that they’re still not moving, so once the canal had thawed there would be no reason why the boat and the owners couldn’t have cruised.
Q. You would not serve it until the ice had thawed?
THE JUDGE: So you did not serve the second letter until after it had thawed?
NOTE: Ms. Waterman served several notices on boats when the canal was frozen that winter - the coldest for 30 years, 12+ inches of ice. She told people, directly, to move in ice, saying, 'You can move in that'. I know of one person who complained. He received an apology from the manager, Wendy Capelle, who said it was a 'mistake'. Shortly afterwards some people, not myself, were told not to move in the ice. Insurance does not cover damage caused by movement in ice.
A wooden boat is likely to suffer damage when severely iced in for several weeks, especially when hire boats are still being sent out and tearing down the canal acting as ice breakers. A fibreglass boat next to me was sunk by such reckless movement. I had a problem when the ice thawed from water below the foredeck, having thawed, flooded into the bilges on one side and listed the boat sufficient to find a bolt hole in the side. You do not 'bother' people in such conditions, or in the middle of winter, or over the Christmas period. And you do not move immediately the ice thaws as it may well freeze again and you will be stuck in a place that is not close to 'facilities'.
Who is best fitted to make the decision whether or not to move on a boat? The experienced boat owner or an ignorant 'chav' such as is exposed here?
The issuing of notices was malicious as I had challenged Ms. Waterman a few days before asking which office she worked out of now that 'enforcement' had transferred to the Wigan office. She refused to answer. She is obliged to answer. She was a public official, of a public authority, performing a public office and had been harassing people which I had complained about). I said I would escort her, and the person with her, until they had left the towpath as I was not satisfied as to her 'authority'. MR. STARK: Now going back to the continuous cruises procedure, the third letter said (in the third box):
"We are of the opinion, and consider on the facts, the boat is not complying with the legal requirements. We sent him the standard revocation letter No. 3 informing him that we had no alternative but to terminate his licence with immediate effect."
Is that right?
Q. Were you aware that, in fact, you did have an alternative? You do not have to serve a notice; it is a choice for the (inaudible) of the Canal & River Trust.
A. Well, the notice wouldn’t be served if the matter was (inaudible).
Q. I understand that. What I am saying is that your procedure makes it seem that you are obliged to serve a notice at that third stage when, in fact, you are not under any obligation to service a notice at that third stage.
Q. Were you aware that you were not under an obligation to serve it?
A. I don’t know (inaudible).
Q. The way that your letter is phrased saying that you have no alternative but to terminate—
THE JUDGE: There is no legal requirement on them to serve a notice because section 17 says "may" not "must".
MR. STARK: Yes, and I was halfway—
THE JUDGE: They could perfectly well argue that the way they run the system means that it is an imperative, if they are to continue running the systems as they are, that this is done because otherwise the floodgates to people defying the system generally will be opened. The words ''we have no alternative'' could mean a variety of things. It does not necessarily mean ''we have got a statutory obligation'', does it? Again you can argue this with me on the documents in due course. What the witness thinks is really not all that relevant to what the meaning of the words actually is. In fact the Canal and River Trust (inaudible) could run the system in an entirely different way if they chose to; it is up to them.
MR. STARK: I am simply seeking to establish how they do it.
THE JUDGE: Yes, I follow that, but the real question I have to answer is, is it not, that, as at the date of service of these three letters and the revocation of the licence, was Mr Mayers in contravention of section 17 or was he not? Section 13 is the section which empowers action, is it not? Section 17 is the one we are looking at. Whether he was either moored or continuously cruising is what we are looking at, and we are not looking at whether he was complying with the continuous cruising guidelines but whether he was complying with the actual terms of the Act. Right. Yes. Next question. I am sorry to keep cracking the whip but we do need to go on.
MR. STARK: Is this the policy that you work from? Is this (inaudible) the policy that you work from?
Q. Are there any other enforcement policy documents that you have ever seen?
A. I’m not sure if it was different variations of it (inaudible).
Q. Variations of the same flowchart?
A. Yeah, yeah.
Q. So there is not any guidance to you on how to deal with people plagued with disabilities?
THE JUDGE: Have you had any guidance at all in dealing with people with various forms of disability, discrimination rights?
A. I’ve never really come across it so—
Q. You have not had any training in the Equality Act at all?
A. Yeah, sorry, I’ve had that training but I’ve never come across a boater that’s…
A. …that had been…
A. Yeah, that I’ve had in a procedure.
Q. So you have never come across, in your experience, a boater you knew to be disabled?
A. No, not that was in a procedure.
Q. What do you mean "in a procedure"?
A. I’ve known of boaters that…
Q. Are disabled but none that you have invoked this procedure with.
Q. So this is the only disabled boater where this procedure has ever been invoked, as far as you are aware?
A. As far as I’m aware.
MR. STARK: You are not aware of a disabled boater called Mr Birchall?
A. I am aware of him, yeah.
Q. The procedure was invoked with him, was it not?
THE JUDGE: Did you deal with him?
A. I did. I don’t think he’s got… I can’t remember the question, sorry.
MR. STARK: The procedure was invoked against Mr Birchall, was it not?
THE JUDGE: Is he disabled?
MR. STARK: He was disabled, was he not?
THE JUDGE: What is the nature of the disability?
A. You know, the occasion was a long time ago. I think he… I don’t know whether he walked with a stick, but I don’t think it was used in the case.
Q. We are having difficulty hearing you.
A. Yeah, I don’t think it was used for the case.
Q. He did not rely on the disability in the course of the case, as far as you recall?
A. He did towards the end when it got serious but at the beginning he didn’t.
MR. STARK: Well, he did rely upon his disability when you served a section 8 notice on him.
A. I don’t think it was mentioned then.
THE JUDGE: He did rely on disability at the end and what happened?
A. His boat was removed.
Q. Where did it go? What do you do with a boat when you remove it from the canal?
A. It’s stored and then a torts notice is served against it.
Q. A what notice?
A. A torts.
Q. Torts (Interference with Goods) Act?
A. Yeah, and then, eventually, the BW/Canal & River Trust sell it.
Q. If they do not remove it from the store?
MR. STARK: So you have used this procedure on a disabled person before.
A. I haven’t personally. Yeah, I had to use the procedure but…
Q. I know what you say about Mr Mayers and not having told you about his disability, but all I suggest to you is, in fact, the way that the Canal & River Trust (and British Waterways before) applied this policy, it applies it without regard for someone who has got a disability. What it does is it says, "If you have got a disability then find yourself a home mooring," does it not? That is your response.
A. I don’t know. It’s not my response.
Q. Is that not, in essence, what Mr Birchall was told, because you removed his boat from the canal, did you not, because he could not comply with his continuous cruising licence?
A. That’s why it was removed – because he didn’t comply with the licence.
Q. Yes, and so it was either go or get a home mooring, was it not?
A. As far as I can recall (because, as I say, it was a couple of years ago), it wasn’t really brought into it as a major issue.
Q. You say you received Equality Act training. Is that general training, or is it how you should not discriminate against someone, or is it training in relation to your work and how you should apply it in relation to enforcement?
Q. General training?
A. —really, I suppose.
Q. So you have not had any training on how to deal with disabled boaters.
A. Not that I can recall.
NOTE: She has harassed and threatened many boaters with long term, or temporary, health problems requiring access to medical facilities but allowing them to continue to live on a boat with care and not requiring unnecessary, and unlawful, and deliberate, harassment and threats of legal action. This was what I was , mostly, complaining about through meetings, letters and the complaints procedures as I was aware such abuse had become policy and common practice since 'Year Zero' (Spring 2007).
Mr Birchall was refused a licence as he had no home mooring. A friend of his told me he asked for a mooring and they said he couldn't have one as he lived on his boat. He couldn't get legal aid and didn't attend the court. His boat was seized without the required 28 day period being observed as BW feared he might 'abscond'. Waterman was involved in the seizure.
Q. What is your understanding of whether or not someone is continuously cruising – not continually cruising is perhaps a better (inaudible) – because it is not simply someone who is in one place for more than 14 days, is it? You would monitor their movements more than that, is that right? You do not just look at them and say, "They were there more than 14 days; therefore, we’re serving them with a VC1(?) letter," do you?
A. We have someone that analyses the data now and brings it to our attention when boats aren’t continuously cruising.
Q. Yes, but when they bring to your attention that the boats are not continuously cruising, what is your understanding of a boat not continually cruising? What does that mean?
A. Well, if it’s sat in the same spot.
Q. Just if it is sat in the same spot?
A. Or if it’s only moving slightly. There’s bridge-hopping as well, so it’s creating a pattern, and it’s not navigating the system.
THE JUDGE: Bridge-hopping? That is what you call it if it moves just a few hundred yards from one bridge to the next?
A. Yeah, and then in like a pattern that goes A, B, C, D, B, A.
Q. Up and down a one-mile stretch of canal between three bridges?
A. Yeah, pretty much.
MR. STARK: So if it goes slightly longer than that then it is continually cruising?
A. There’s different variations on it; it’s not as… I wouldn’t say it was that straight cut.
Q. Mr Mayers said that he had been moving round the local area in 2009. Is moving around the local area, in your view, not continuously cruising?
A. Well, we were doing regular sightings, so we obviously go off the sightings. We’re trying to basically track—
THE JUDGE: Have you got any of the data about where this boat was on which dates available to us?
A. We should have, yeah, but, if not, we can definitely get it for you for tomorrow—
Q. Yes, please. I would like to know what movements you logged.
A. —because it’s electronically sighted.
Q. You will not, of course, have logged all of them because you were not continuously observing this—
Q. —and you do not have tracking devices on the boats, presumably.
Q. The Trent and Mersey, the full length of the canal, is, what, about 50 miles?
A. Yeah. I only cover it to the Harecastle Tunnel North in Kidsgrove—
Q. What about the tunnel through the Pennines?
A. —round Stoke (inaudible) Staffordshire; so I go from Preston Brook, Runcorn to Harecastle Tunnel, Kidsgrove.
Q. In Staffordshire?
A. Yeah, and then it becomes another enforcement patch then.
Q. Are there any of the records in the papers, Mr Moss?
MR. MOSS: Yes. If you just bear with me, it is actually at page 481 of bundle B2.
THE JUDGE: Bundle 2, 481. (to the witness) There is a little bundle called bundle B in front of you on the racks there.
A. I’ll have a look.
Q. Open it at page 481. It does not appear to tell me where the boat was, though, Mr Moss: notification number, the date, the equipment, which presumably—
MR. MOSS: As I understand it, it is the last column, which is "functional location".
THE JUDGE: That is a grid reference or something, is it?
MR. MOSS: Yes.
THE WITNESS: The functional location (inaudible) is the TM15002; that’s the coordinate where the boat was sighted.
THE JUDGE: What is the functional location?
A. If you had a home mooring it would be a different one and that one states that the boat’s a continuous cruiser.
Q. Yes, sorry, but there are different numbers, though. BW065007, what does that mean? BW presumably stands for British Waterways.
Q. And 065 –what is that?
A. A continuous cruiser.
Q. A continuous cruiser, and 007, what is 007?
A. I think that was, without looking—
Q. It belongs to James Bond?
A. I think that’s continuous cruiser as well, but I think it changed.
Q. Is that just the designation of the boat, because this one changes from 065007 to 017007, does it not (a third of the way down the form)?
A. Yeah. Without looking at the computer, I—
Q. TM is the…?
A. TM is the position that the boat was on the canal.
Q. What does TM stand for? Trent Mersey?
A. Trent and Mersey.
Q. So 015013, what do I glean from that?
A. They’re the functional locations (inaudible) kilometres, so that would be 15—
Q. A kilometre 15?
A. Yeah, and then 2’s just the position along that kilometre; so different aspects(?) are broken down into different sites.
Q. So 132222 (it is the same place for four sightings), back to 13 again, back to 2 again for three more sightings, back to 13, back to 2. This is during 2011; he is moving only between two sites, is that right?
A. That’s correct.
Q. Then from early on in the column he does not move at all. On the second page, he moves from 2 to 14 and then back. We have got to be careful because the 12 changes to 15, or the 15 changes to 12, so he has moved a few kilometres at one stage: 1218, 1210, 1210. So there are some movements. That is earlier on (it is in reverse order); it is 2009. If it changes from 14 to 15 we can reasonably assume that he has moved something in the order of a kilometre.
NOTE: From February 2010 I could not move at all, other than for water etc., as my licence had been revoked. I was told I could not move. ( Note how confusing this must be to a judge, or anyone, not familiar with the 'rules' and requirements. Even to anyone familiar with it [see Canalworld Forum] Waterman doesn't know what she's talking about, the Judge can't understand the 'spy log' of boat sightings, which is in any case, inaccurate and misleading Deliberately so once you have been targetted.).
Q. On 11th November 2005, he was on the Shropshire Union, I see, and on the Oxford canal, but mostly on the Trent and Mersey (inaudible). Thank you very much. Yes, back to you, Mr Stark.
NOTE: [And had a serious illness in April 2006 a couple of weeks after arriving at Marston the consequences of which led to numerous medical appointments].
MR. STARK: In 2009, when he appeared at various different locations (admittedly some more than others), when he said he was moving round the local area, that is right, is it not, even if it is only short (inaudible) round the local area, is that right, when he stopped at—?
Q. You have accepted, have you not, that this, because they are only every week or so, does not necessarily mean that they include all the stops or movements that were taken?
THE JUDGE: Some of them are consecutive days; some of them are a fortnight apart. Looking at them, there is one on 16th April 2009 and then there is one on the 17th and the next one is not until 1st May; so we have got two consecutive days and then a period of about a fortnight in which he could have got to Llangollen and back if he had wanted to.
Q. We do not know until we hear from him. The maximum permitted speed on canals is 4 miles an hour?
Q. So it is impossible to travel more than about 100 miles in a day.
MR. STARK: But you could move some considerable distance between the times he is (inaudible) and when you next observed him, could he not, then?
Q. He could have moved some considerable distance in the time between observations if they are a week or ten days apart.
A. He could have done.
THE JUDGE: Well, it is simple arithmetic. If you see him ten days apart, he could have moved. If he had travelled ten hours a day at 4 miles an hour for ten days, he would travel 400 miles.
MR. STARK: Can I ask you, have you ever heard of this new proposal for something called community mooring permit?
Q. You said that bridge 193 was a bit of a hot spot. How many boats are there at any one time?
A. When it’s busy you could probably get 20 boats, maybe more depending on the size of the boats because they all vary.
Q. Mr Mayers suggests that, in fact, he is often on his own and there are very few boats at bridge 193.
A. When I first started, there were… Let’s just say it’s a very popular spot. Obviously it averages – boats come and go – but you asked how many boats we could get there.
Q. That would be, what, in the middle of August, would it? What would it typically be (inaudible) year?
A. There’s no real pattern as to (inaudible). Boats come and go all the time. It’s part of the Cheshire ring so…
Q. Is the canal wide at that point?
A. Is it wide?
Q. Is it wide? It is not obstructing navigation at all, is it?
A. It’s as wide as a canal.
Q. Well, canals can vary in width. The Grand Union and the Oxford canals, for example, are very different widths.
A. It’s as wide as a—
THE JUDGE: The locks are a standard either 14 feet or seven feet—
A. Yeah, I’d say—
Q. —and the Trent and Mersey locks are mostly 14 feet, are they not?
Q. The canal would be, generally speaking, between 20 and 30 feet wide.
Q. Sometimes a bit wider, sometimes a bit narrower, but generally 20 to 30 feet wide, enough for two seven-foot narrow boats to pass one another if required.
A. (inaudible), yeah.
Q. The traditional canal narrow boat was just under seven feet, is that right?
A. I don’t know.
Q. You do not know?
A. I don’t know the general width of a boat.
Q. Well, the locks are seven feet, are they not, or 14? Llangollen branch are seven foot.
Q. The Shropshire Union are 14, are they not? You tell me.
A. I don’t know. I don’t know the widths of…
Q. As it happens, I do, but I am not allowed to give evidence. You really ought to know. How long have you been working for the canals?
A. Four years.
Q. I am only making (inaudible).
MR STARK: (to the witness) Can I ask you, have you ever come across any of these scenarios? If someone had said to you, "I’d like to go to this very remote spot. I want to spend a lot more than two weeks there, but I’m well out of anyone’s way and then I’ll move on somewhere else," would you be allowed to give permission for that, or would you have to say, "No, you can’t do that"?
Q. You would have to say no?
A. Well, I wouldn’t say, "No," exactly to the boater; I’m saying no to you. I wouldn’t say, "No." I wouldn’t advise anyone to overstay.
Q. Right. They know they cannot stay (inaudible)?
THE JUDGE: "I would not advise anybody to overstay."
MR. STARK: But you would not be able to give them permission to overstay, (inaudible)?
THE JUDGE: Supposing you came to Christleton and found a boat moored on the canal just outside Chester, and it was there for three weeks and you went to serve a notice, and the occupier of the boat said, "I live on this boat with my wife. She’s been taken to hospital with a broken leg and she is still in hospital at Chester. I need to stay here until she’s recovered." What would you do?
A. I’d take their details, contact details, give them my contact details and take it back to my supervisor, explaining.
Q. So any complex decisions go to the supervisor?
A. Really, yeah, because—
Q. Who is the supervisor?
A. Jill Overum.
Q. Is she here?
Q. Which one is she? (pause) It looks as though if we want to know about any policies towards exceptions, we need to speak to her not you, do we?
Q. I might ask you to tender the witness, Mr Moss, if the opposition want you to do so. I will not do unless requested.
MR. STARK: Your Honour, I am (inaudible) conscious of not wanting to ask this witness questions that she cannot answer.
THE JUDGE: She cannot answer questions about policy. Anything hard she refers to the supervisor.
MR. STARK: Indeed.
THE JUDGE: If you want the supervisor called, in the interests of justice, I will ask Mr Moss to tender her for cross-examination, even though we have got no witness statement from her. But it is up to you. I am not going to force you to do it. I am making the facility available to you if you want it.
MR. STARK: I am just wanting to (inaudible). I will go through the rest of my questions to see if there anything I can ask of this witness without embarrassing the witness, which I do not want to do. (to the witness) Miss Waterman, were you aware that there was this historical undertaking that had been given to people who have been at the time the licensing régime came in that meant that certain people would not have their licences withdrawn even if they were not continuously cruising or could not find a home mooring?
THE JUDGE: It is a question I do not usually ask young ladies, but you are young enough to withstand it. How old are you, Miss Waterman?
Q. So you would be 15 or 16 when the undertaking was given. All right.
MR. STARK: Can I assume you are really just trained in the up-to-date situation on the waterways? You are not given a long historical training in the past enforcement procedures on the waterways.
Q. Can I just ask you, have you ever offered Mr Mayers a home mooring of any kind?
THE JUDGE: Have you ever given him any document which contained details of any moorings, suggested that he go and look at a particular place, given him the address or telephone number of marina or anything like that?
A. No. Me personally, no.
Q. "I have not personally offered him a mooring."
MR. STARK: Do you know anything about the auction of home moorings?
A. I know something about it, yeah.
Q. Are you aware of any that have been auctioned anywhere near where Mr Mayers is on the Trent and Mersey?
THE JUDGE: Have any moorings become available at all under any circumstances in the last two years within ten miles of where he is now that you know of?
A. Not that I can recall off the top of my head.
Q. None within ten miles in the last two years, auctions or otherwise?
A. There may have been but I don’t get involved. It’s a separate—
Q. You do not know of any?
A. No, it’s a separate manager for that.
MR. STARK: Is that Jill Overum again or is it someone else?
A. No, we (inaudible.
THE JUDGE: Is she—?
A. It’s the moorings manager. ght. Anything else?
MR. STARK: Yes, I have got (inaudible). (to the witness) You say that you were not aware that Mr Mayers had any health problems, is that right?
Q. He obviously never raised them with you.
Q. Were you aware that he had raised them with other members of British Waterways' staff?
Q. They have not told you about that?
Q. So you were not aware, for example, of his complaint letter, which can be found at page 162? I will just check it with you to make sure you were not aware of it, make sure you have not seen this. This is to Mrs Sharman, who I see is another manager, is it?
A. She was.
Q. She was a former manager, was she?
A. Yeah, she is in a different role now to what she was at that time.
Q. Can you help me with the hierarchy? Was she your supervisor or was she Mrs—?
A. No, she was a waterways manager.
Q. A waterways manager. Was she sort of senior to your supervisor?
THE JUDGE: So Jill Overum is your immediate supervisor, your line manager?
Q. Who is her line manager?
A. Paul Griffin.
Q. Paul Griffin, and who is his line manager?
A. Denise Yelland.
Q. Denise Yelland. Right. That is far enough up the chain.
MR. STARK: Where did Mrs Sharman fit in that line? Was she Paul Griffin’s predecessor or was she—?
A. It was a different structure back then. We had a restructure.
Q. Restructuring. Was that at the changeover or was it before the changeover to the Canal & River Trust?
Q. Before. So you have not seen this letter at page 162, his complain?
A. I was aware of his complaints but—
Q. But you have not seen this; you did not see the actual complaint. You were aware that he had made one but you did not see it.
A. I wasn’t a party when it was going on, and I was aware that he’d been… as far as I was concerned that it’d been dealt with to continue with the enforcement (inaudible) enforcement.
THE JUDGE: You were aware of the complaint but not party to dealing with it?
A. No, I wasn’t anything to do with it.
MR. STARK: So you were not aware then that, for example, he had written (at the fourth line in), "I had numerous medical appointments, as I have told you several times"?
Q. Or that (on page 163) he refers in the second paragraph to having been seriously ill and been recuperating? You were not aware of that?
A. No, this was all dealt with before.
Q. No, but I think the point is that your statement suggests that the Canal & River Trust was not aware of it but all you can say is that you personally were not aware of it.
THE JUDGE: Well, it is to be presumed that the Trust were aware of it because the letter is addressed to Mrs Sharman on January 9th 2009; so if they got the letter – and I think she replied to it, from memory – then the Trust were aware of it.
MR. STARK: (to the witness) Although you were aware the complaint had been handled, having handled, as it were, (inaudible) complaint correctly dealt with or handled or been processed, again you would not have been aware of what was written ono page 175 by Mr Stirling (I think it was), the technical director. The penultimate paragraph on that said:
"We do take into account individual circumstances like illness which impair the person’s ability. You have stated you have a twelve-month schedule of doctors’ appointments. The correct approach in those circumstances is to seek a mooring or a short term mooring, as you know in advance that you will be unable to cruise the network."
A. What was your question again, sorry?
Q. Sorry. You were not aware of his reply either—
Q. —that said, "Well, if you’re ill, get a mooring."
A. It was all down to (inaudible).
Q. It had all been dealt with; it had not come to you. Can I ask you, had enforcement action against Mr Mayers been considered before but delayed whilst his complaint was underway?
THE JUDGE: Do you know?
A. Yeah. Yeah.
MR. STARK: That is right, is it?
THE JUDGE: Action was delayed while he made the complaint?
A. I think so, yeah.
Q. "I think enforcement action was delayed while he made the complaint."
MR. STARK: In essence, when you actually then started enforcing matters at the end of 2009, was that as a result of an instruction to proceed to enforcement rather than you then spotting that he had not moved for 14 days?
A. No, I was aware that Mr Mayers wasn’t moving, so I had taken it to see whether I could start and I was told I could start.
Q. Essentially whether you could start but you knew that there were already plans to start action against him.
A. Yeah, there’d been previous plans.
Q. I think you have already answered this question, but when Mr Mayers was contacted with some proposed home moorings you had no knowledge of that.
THE JUDGE: If it helps, I cannot think of anything you have missed.
MR. STARK: Your Honour, may I ask for us to break for ten minutes for me to take instructions as to whether or not to take up your invitation?
THE JUDGE: Yes. Ten minutes.
(Short discussion between the Judge and counsel for the claimant)
I don't need to point out that Ms. Waterman displays her ignorance effectively, and lies, as she habitually does as has been the subject of many complaints. She is in the witness box, under oath. She initiated the enforcement action against me which had been planned for some time. They had been waiting for the opportunity for a couple of years and had tried, on numerous occasions, to 'provoke' me into something they could describe as an assault on an enforcement officer. It didn't happen but they created false allegations anyway (and submitted them to the court without my knowledge until I saw them 2 days before the trial. (Apparently, I'm 'violent and abusive and a danger to women'). Their 'intent' was to seek an injunction against me and take my boat. They terminated the meetings with Julie Sharman, Manager of Border Counties Waterways, but I continued my complaint through the Complaints Procedure. (Julie Sharman had been listening to me but the situation changed following a 'visit' from CEO Robin Evans).
The Ombudsman refused to answer my challenges to the rules in relation to the law, particularly, the requirement of the continuous journey. She did not pass on my questions to the Legal Department of BW. She said I would have to take them to court. I, obviously, could not afford to do that. I suspended the process, declining the final decision, while I sought advice. The Ombudsman declared my complaint to have been withdrawn. They were now free to initiate the legal action at a suitable opportunity, which I 'welcomed' as the only recourse.
They, BW, had terminated the discussion and refused to, reasonably and satisfactorily, answer my complaint.
The requirement of the progressive journey was declared unlawful by the Judge in the Paul Davis case in 2011 and admitted, by Sally Ash to have always been unlawful.
My contention was that the 'rules,, on which BW base their enforcement - and demands on boaters - were unlawful (correct) and, therefore, the harassment and 'enforcement' based on those rules was criminal.
There needs to be a criminal prosecution.
I have been on the canals since 1990. I built/rebuilt my boat - a historic wooden boat - I have lived on it ever since - 23 years. Yet, I, and others with as much, and more, experience than me are told what to do by ignorant half wits like this with no knowledge of boats or the waterways, and no interest. They are employed to harass us and not answer questions or 'engage' us in any way. And they are empowered to issue enforcement notices leading to legal action that can result, and is intended, to deprive people of their boats which may also be their home. They are allowed to pursue a personal grievance, their witness statements are written for them, and their lying is condoned. Both Helen Waterman and Jill Overum have been the subject of many complaints about their lying and falsely issuing enforcement notices. This is misconduct in a public office. Also guilty of this are those who employ them and promote them and sanction their actions.
The whole of the enforcement activity initiated in 2007 by, primarily, Robin Evans, Sally Ash and Nigel Johnson is unlawful, and criminal,and constitutes misconduct in a public office and several breaches of the Human Rights Act, which applies to Public Authorities. My trial in 2013 was about things that had happened between 2007 and 2008 when BW was a Public Authority so the Human Rights Act did apply. Arguably, it still does as CRT is, in part, a Public Body.
When BW was transferring from a Public Authority to a Public Body and Charitable Trust there was an attempt to make it illegal, and criminal, to disobey an instruction from an 'enforcement officer'. I.e. Helen Waterman or a similarly qualified individual.
Helen Waterman was involved in the actual theft of my boat, was present at the seizure alongwith the 'laughing policemen'- who were 'in on the joke'- and left her employment at the end of that week.
Note that she stated there were no moorings available yet, after the first hearing, in 2010, when the Judge said, 'Go away and find Mr. Mayers a mooring', they came up with a list of 'moorings' supposedly available. (Only one was, possibly, available in a marina, not suitable for residential use nor lawful for residential use and where I had rented a mooring before as I heard Housing Benefit was payable and I wanted to see how they would react to my being forced to take a mooring when I didn't want one to avoid harassment and legal action - and to avoid possible homelessness. They were new to all this and eventually stopped the payment). They then said to the court that I had refused a mooring - in a telephone hearing that I knew nothing about.
On the last day of the trial the court was informed that there were 9 moorings available to me starting from £20 per week. A lie that affected the decision of the Judge when he suggested I take one of those moorings and could remain on the canal. The Judge addressed me, directly, and assured me that he would not let them take my boat and a way would be found whereby I could remain on the canal.
CRT claim that seizing a person's boat is a 'last resort'.
In a case such as mine it is the intention, regardless of legality, because they think they can get away with it and I am to be made an example of. I can, no longer, get legal aid so CRT do what they like thinking I can't take them to court.
And they will do the same to you. That's the 'message' they seek to convey.
And, given the, apparent, lack of concern about my case they'll carry on doing it with impunity.