Boaters launch campaign against inspectors

Thursday 15th March 2012 from Oxford News By Andrew Ffrench

A CAMPAIGN group is using the Freedom of Information Act to uncover the details of a crackdown on illegally moored boats in Oxford.

Earlier this month it emerged Oxford City Council is paying £44,000 over two years towards work by the Unlawfully Moored Boats Enforcement Group (Umbeg).

Although Umbeg was established in 2010, its existence only became public after the city council agreed to provide the funding.

Now the National Bargee Travellers’ Association has submitted an FOI request to the council to find out more about Umbeg and how it operates.

The request asks for a copy of the terms of reference, the work plan and the minutes of all past meetings of the group.

And it has asked for a copy of any “memoranda of understanding” between the different Umbeg group members – which include British Waterways, the Environment Agency, Thames Valley Police and other landowners – and a breakdown of the budget and the budget contributors.

Association spokesman Panda Smith, 54, said boaters from Oxford have contacted the organisation because of their concerns about how Umbeg could affect them.

Based on a boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire, she said: “We are using the Freedom of Information Act to try to find out whose idea it was to set up Umbeg in the first place.

“If boaters are forced to move off their boats then they will automatically become homeless and the consequences will be increased homelessness and demand for housing benefit.

“We have been arguing for local authorities to include boat dwellers under the provision for travellers and other nomadic people. Boat dwellers fall through every policy and legislative net that there is.

Tony Swatton, 73, who has been living on his cabin cruiser Tapper on the River Thames for the past 12 years, said: “I don’t support the council funding Umbeg.

“If all boaters played by the rules there would be no need for an organisation like this.

“I pay £314 a year for a licence but I have never paid a mooring fee because I just keep moving.

“Twenty-four hour mooring is free – it’s a brilliant life and I wouldn’t change it.”

The city council declined to comment but confirmed it had received the FOI request.

According to the Environment Agency, if you keep, or mainly use, your boat on the River Thames you should have a legitimate base mooring.

If you live on your boat as your only place of residence on a permanent mooring, the mooring must have approved residential use.

via Boaters launch campaign against inspectors (From Oxford Mail).

Leave a Reply

A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.