Meg Lee Chin

The BBC broadcast below provides an interesting contrast between a young, able bodied CRT employee and a family who have been living on the canals for ten years and now face eviction.

The CRT employee insists that a boat should be moved the way a musical instrument should be played. What is not mentioned is that the musician is now being overseen by a conductor who dictates each movement, style and pace - leaving little room for expression.

The 1995 British Waterways Act gives boaters the right to enjoy the CCing lifestyle. The law does not discriminate between young, old, rich, poor, families with children, yuppies with flash boats or anything in between. The only requirement is you move every 14 days and you intend to use your boat for navigation.

Boaters come in every size, shape and color. The family had been living peacefully on the water for ten years. Their intentions have not changed. What has changed are the intentions of the overseers. Under UK law it is the intention of the boater which matters.

The Canal and River Trust are a charitable trust with stakeholders. Unlike their predecessors they are not a public body. As such they have obligations to their stakeholders.

Their new policies create a cut off point. By slowly raising the bar over time fewer and fewer will be able to meet the criteria. In short it is a creeping gentrification.

The question here is whether it is legitimate for a business entity to decide that only a certain demographic should be entitled to enjoy a CCing lifestyle.

The CRT were entrusted with the job of maintaining the canals for navigation. They have chosen to interpret this to be the culling of the CCing population using the congestion problem in London as the pretext.

Yet instead of tackling congestion using simpler, less expensive methods of providing incentive for boaters to spread, they have chosen to use the most expensive, labour intensive means. This is wreaking havoc upon small segments of the demographic.

They are imposing one-size-fits-all rules upon the entire demographic - even those in areas without congestion. They are foregoing their duties to maintain the canals and instead focusing upon freeing space to accommodate developers. This is clearly not in keeping with the spirit of the 1995 Act.

So the question for the British Public is;

Is it right for a navigation authority hired to maintain the canals on behalf of the British Public to deny legal rights to certain segments of the population in order to serve the interests of its stakeholders?