HISTORIC bollards and mooring rings have suddenly been removed from a strip of towpath at Marshgate Bridge 15, near Homerton, according to the National Bargee Travellers Association.
It claims that at 9am on Thursday February 2, the Canal & River Trust began removing them even though some were still in use at the time. Boaters had been given less than 24 hours’ notice regarding this action, with texts requesting the removal of boats sent out in the afternoon of February 1.
In its texts, CRT claimed this is already a ‘no mooring’ area so it had no need to provide a suspension notice. It gave the reason that moored boats were blocking the navigation.
However according to NBTA this area has been moored for decades, as illustrated by the historic bollards that were there.
Boater Frankie Perry was moored at a spot where she has moored twice previously and upon receiving a text at 3pm on the Wednesday, said she felt panicked as moving before 9am would have been impossible: “I was out until 11pm that night, and would leave again for work at 7am.
“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. I believe the heavy-handed message would have fazed me when I was less experienced in dealing with the trust, and I can imagine myself or others feeling intimidated into moving unsafely in the dark.”
She continued: “I find the reasons for the ‘no mooring’ designation for this stretch baffling; the navigation is very wide at this point and easily accommodates boats passing each other, even with the permanently moored widebeams on the offside.
“I find it very disappointing that the trust is using its resources – to which our licence fees contribute – to actively remove mooring rings when there is so much infrastructure within the London network in need of repair or improvement.”
Frankie added: “Removing these moorings by Hackney Marshes and Wick Woods may also impact safety for boaters and the public; it is a long stretch of very poorly lit towpath and an area with a recent history of violent sexual harassment towards women.”
NBTA claimed this latest act was part of a continued attack on the itinerant boat dweller community and the pursuit of achieving the so-called ‘Safety Zones’ which seeks to remove almost 300 London moorings. The removal of mooring rings and bollards in an area that boaters have been using safely for a very long time would only cause more congestion in other areas and raise very real safety concerns about the creation of desolate, dark parts of the towpath.
London branch chairman Ian McDowell said: “We will continue to fight the boat cull and we encourage all boats to keep mooring in the so-called ‘no mooring’ areas.”