THE River Lee in London has long been a multi-use space shared by all kinds of craft, states the National Bargee Travellers Association.
But it claims that in recent years, the Canal & River Trust has emphasised the rights of some river users over others.
NBTA has drawn attention to two sites near rowing clubs which CRT has proposed to designate as Water Safety Zones.
These two zones – one on the Lower Lee, running through Hackney and Tottenham in east London, and the other further north in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire – will prevent itinerant boat dwellers from mooring in these locations for the 14 days which apply elsewhere on the waterways.
CRT has claimed that these zones merely enforce ‘existing rules and regulations’ and that these ‘no mooring zones’ have historically never been moored.
But NBTA states that boats and large barges have been using and mooring on the Lee for many years and has published photographs of boats and industrial barges moored at some of these locations on the Lower Lee in east London.
In February CRT began removing mooring rings and historic bollards in east London. A text message to boaters requesting them to remove their vessels stated that the towpath at Marshgate Bridge 15, near Homerton, was already a ‘no mooring’ zone and that the boats were blocking navigation.
Frankie Perry was moored in the spot opposite Matchmaker’s Wharf when she received a text telling her that the mooring rings and bollards would be removed at 9am the next morning.
“It didn’t occur to me that there were any mooring restrictions in place; there were no signs, it’s not by a bridge or bend, the navigation is wide, and there were mooring rings to tie up to,” she said.
NBTA also claims that the two rowing clubs that lie within these zones have been pushing CRT to implement mooring restrictions for years and have removed bars designed to help people out of the water in an emergency.
CRT subsequently issued a statement that it had informed the club involved that such actions were unacceptable.