Some hands to the deck at the Pirate Castle for the London mooring consultation

The promised London Mooring Strategy consultation with London boaters and other canal ‘stake-holders’ appears to be spreading its tentacles with a ‘sounding board’ for invited boaters being launched by the Canal and River Trust on the 14th March at an evening session at The Pirate Castle in Camden.

In an invite email - seen by London Boater News - CRT say that the ‘London Mooring Strategy Sounding Board’ will be asked to “discuss the direction of the strategy and the strategic, headline proposals being considered.”

“The aim is to get your feedback and then hold a short series of focus groups to test the ideas with stakeholders before we develop more detailed plans,” the CRT email states.

The London Mooring Strategy has been under development by CRT since early 2016 and was initially floated to boaters and other canal stake-holders on the 24 May 2016 at a workshop at the Holiday Inn Camden Lock, where a presentation was given about the planned strategy. The CRT report on the workshop can be found here.

The London Mooring Strategy will continue over the summer, CRT say, and workshops will be held in which all London boaters will be invited.

The strategy is being run by Matthew Symonds, CRT Boating Strategy and Engagement Manager, and the aims, he says, is:
For better provision and management of a range of facilities and mooring types in London
To manage the high number of boats in London and to mitigate the environmental impacts on the waterways and neighbours
To help ensure fair sharing of water space
To enable a wider range of boaters to visit and navigate in London
To protect existing, and generate additional, income to maintain the waterways in London
To support a London waterway destination and tourism strategy
To ensure the mooring strategy contributes to the Trust’s aim that London’s waterways help to transform neighbourhoods and enrich people’s lives

"London’s waterways are some of the busiest in the country and we need to manage the finite space effectively,” said Matthew Symonds.
“We need to face the challenges head on, as well as taking advantage of the opportunity to develop a really world-class waterspace (sic) that people will be able to visit and enjoy,” he added.

“We’ll be working closely with those who use the Capital’s canals and rivers to make sure we hear everyone’s views and make well-informed decisions. An end vision statement sets out what the Strategy aims to achieve under each of its key themes."

CRT’s “end vision” for London boating can be found here.

The ongoing London Mooring Strategy is in addition to the recent national CRT Licensing Review consultation, which was announced in a CRT press statement released on February 20th, and the “first phase” appears to be underway already.

A few days prior to the email invite to the London Mooring Strategy Sounding Board, Involve – an arbitration organisation working for CRT – also contacted Boater representative groups and other canal campaign groups to invite them to a one to one interview to help launch the national ‘Licensing Review’, which will also – of course – affect London boaters.

The Involve email to “the main national boating organisations” – also seen by London Boater News -invites Boater organisation reps for a one to one interview to answer questions on what aspects of the current licensing pricing system should be included in the consultation.
“We would also like your thoughts on how the consultation can be shaped to ensure it operates effectively and to make certain we get a good coverage of users’ views," the email states.

CRT say that Involve will be facilitating an “independent consultation” about how boats are licensed on their waterways.
“The current licensing system has remained largely unchanged for more than two decades and is often cited by boat owners as being complex and out of date,” CRT say.
“During the second stage, which will run from April, Involve will host a series of in-depth workshops with boaters across the country.  Participants will reflect the diversity in the boating community,” they add.
“The final stage will be a consultation for all boat owners to give their views on the options developed during the two previous stages.”
CRT’s Matthew Symonds describes CRT’s national licencing review here (video).

Ian Rogers, CRT customer service and operations director, has also said that licensing review is needed because the current licensing system has been in place for over twenty years and has caused “concern” about fairness and “long term sustainability.”
“Feedback from boaters suggests that many feel the current licensing is overly complex and can be perceived as unfair, and this consultation seeks to discuss these areas of concern,” he said.

Diane Beddoes, Associate at Involve, added: "We’re delighted to be able to help the Trust complete this important piece of work. Our brief is to apply our principles of transparency, inclusiveness and collaboration to ensure that boaters are fully involved in helping create a balanced and simple boat licensing system."

The licensing review comes amidst rumours of planned price increases to wide-beam boat licenses in comparison to narrow boat licences, and increases for ‘continuous cruising’ licences. The unattributed rumours are reported on in Narrow Boat World – which tends to dislike London ‘continuous cruisers’ and The Floater – which tends to support London ‘continuous cruisers’.

‘Continuous cruiser licences’ – or the right to apply for a boat licence and declare ‘no home mooring’ - is enshrined in the 1995 British Waterway Act which is a law that CRT are required to be the statutory authority for.

London Boater News will be going to the Pirate Castle and reporting back on the London Mooring Strategy Sounding Board. However, we will have to offer ‘Chatham House Rules’ to CRT on how we report or they just might not let us in. This means we will be reporting on what’s on offer from CRT – but not on the ‘focus groups’ or questions or statements from the floor. We can – however – talk to boaters who went along to get their reaction and opinions afterwards. Probably down the pub. We will also be following both consultations as they develop and reporting back to London boaters.

Wanted – random pictures of London boating and the London canals to head our news stories.
Contact us at londonboaternews@gmail.com if you want to get involved in London Boater News Editorial – or – if you have a story or an opinion on this and any other London boater issue.

Photo credit: Alan. D. Firkser

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