AS BOATERS anxiously await an update from the Canal & River Trust (CRT) on their new licensing structure, the National Bargee Travellers Association (NBTA) is gearing up to ballot its members on what actions they are willing to take to oppose any attack on the itinerant liveaboard community.
CRT carried out a ‘consultation survey’ between February and April 2023 in which it proposed that boaters without a home mooring could be forced to pay higher licence fees than those with a mooring. Many of these boaters are itinerant liveaboards and NBTA members.
NBTA claims this move could threaten the future of the entire boating community and begin a process of pricing low-income boaters off the water.
If the CRT attempts to charge boats without home moorings more than those with, the NBTA has resolved to ask their members a) whether they oppose this and, if so, b) what kinds of collective actions they would be willing to take. The NBTA will put forward the following actions for consideration:
Licence Strikes – Collectively withhold payment of our licence fees.
Sound the Alarms – Collectively blow our horns at the same predetermined start and end time all over the network.
Blockades – Bring our boats together at a number of key locations on the network to obstruct the navigation.
Protests – March on the CRT’s offices.
Flotillas – Travel in a group with banners down the navigation.
Picket CRT events/stalls – Use the CRTs publicity to inform the public of the attack on boaters.
NBTA’s national secretary, Ian McDowell, commented: “The fact that CRT would even propose charging boaters without a home mooring more for their licence than those with one is a clear attack on our community.
“They claimed that this is a fairer way to reduce their current financial problems but when it comes to claims of fairness, it doesn’t take long to see that it is just a word they use to hide their real agenda and is a preamble to making our lives more difficult.We will refuse to be priced off the waterways with any means we have at our disposal.”
The NBTA is ready to mobilise its membership in opposition to any attack on its community and way of life. Email [email protected] in order to join the organisation and keep up to date with the campaign to oppose differential and divisive licensing, or visit the website for updates at https://www.bargee-traveller.org.uk.