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To: Canal & River Trust

Stop evicting disabled, elderly and vulnerable boat dwellers

Stop evicting disabled, elderly and vulnerable boat dwellers, put an end to the threats of homelessness and meet your Equality Act obligations not to discriminate against people on the grounds of disability, age, pregnancy and responsibility for children.

Why is this important?

Maggie* won't have had much of a Christmas. She has been living rough since she was brutally evicted and her boat and all her possessions seized by the Canal & River Trust in late November 2013. Her home was towed away by a team of 20 bailiffs, Canal & River Trust officials and police. She was left standing on the towpath with only the clothes she stood up in. Maggie suffers from schizophrenia. She hasn't been seen for weeks; friends, family and even the Police are concerned for her safety. They fear that the frightening nature of the eviction has affected her already fragile mental state.

A friend who witnessed the eviction said "Maggie's illness contributed to the situation that led to the eviction. But what an appalling and distastefully unnecessary dispossession of a schizophrenic's home. Canal & River Trust should have helped this vulnerable woman to resolve the situation. They should not have waded in with this draconian show of force. Their behaviour is a disgrace". He continued: "Maggie needed support and as a charity, they should have acted with compassion, not sent in the troops to remove an eight-stone sick lady from her home. This is just one of many examples of Canal & River Trust's bullying of live-aboard boaters. Canal & River Trust is a charityless organisation. If Maggie has come to any harm I will personally hold Canal & River Trust responsible".

Derek's* Christmas was almost as cheerless. A pensioner, he has lived on boats for more than 30 years. He became seriously ill several years ago. He needed regular medical treatment and had to stay near the hospital and doctor. Without a permanent mooring, the law states that under normal circumstances he should travel to a different place every 14 days. But in exceptional circumstances such as illness, he is entitled to stay for whatever longer period is reasonable. This did not stop Canal & River Trust pressuring him to take a mooring and then taking court action to evict him and seize his boat. He stands to lose his home in early 2014.

Harry* is terminally ill. He needed to moor his boat near the hospital for extended periods while receiving treatment. Threats by Canal & River Trust to seize his home unless he took a mooring have forced him to pay for a mooring that is a long distance from the hospital, even though he has the right to stay longer than 14 days in one place if it is reasonable to do so. Canal & River Trust won't drop their enforcement action against him because they claim his past record of boat movement is poor. The reason he couldn't travel much was because of his terminal illness, but Canal & River Trust don't seem to care. They are legally a charity, but their actions are uncharitable. Harry deserves better in the remaining months of his life.

There are many more disabled, elderly and vulnerable boat dwellers like Maggie, Derek and Harry who are being threatened with eviction and seizure of their homes by Canal & River Trust. These boat dwellers have rights under the Equality Act to be protected from losing their homes; rights that Canal & River Trust refuses to recognise, in breach of the law.

A report by Bath and North East Somerset Council condemned Canal & River Trust's failure to meet its equality obligations. The report, published in July 2013, stated that the Council "met with senior executives of the Canal & River Trust and were disturbed both by their lack of awareness of equalities issues, and by their use of draconian powers to enforce the conditions of the licences they issue..."

Boats can be licensed to use Canal & River Trust's waterways without a permanent mooring under Section 17 (3) (c) (ii) of the British Waterways Act 1995.

For more information about the rights of boat dwellers without permanent moorings on Canal & River Trust's waterways, see this 30-minute film by Wiltshire Council

The report, Boat Dwellers and River Travellers: Housing and Major Projects Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel: a Task and Finish Group Review, by Bath and North East Somerset Council is online here at page 19

*Names have been changed to protect these vulnerable people.



2014-02-23 18:28:11 +0000

Two pensioners served eviction notice by Canal & River Trust subsidiary company

Two pensioners in their 70s are being evicted by Canal & River Trust subsidiary British Waterways Marinas Ltd. Both have had serious health problems. For more information see

2014-02-13 23:26:14 +0000

Canal & River Trust U-turn on personal scrutiny of enforcement cases by Chief Executive

A boat dweller who is facing court action by Canal & River Trust was told that its Chief Executive Richard Parry will not personally scrutinise every decision to take boat dwellers to court whether against sick boaters or otherwise. This contradicts what another boater was told by Canal & River Trust earlier this year.

2014-02-08 22:33:06 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2014-02-07 16:27:44 +0000

Canal & River Trust has no equality policy regarding eviction of boat dwellers

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Canal & River Trust has stated that "We do not currently have any general formal procedures, policies, guidance or other standing written instructions in this regard". However it stated that "we do assess the impact of our boat licensing policies and enforcement action on persons with a protected characteristic under the Act on a case-by-case basis".

The Freedom of Information request is online here

2014-01-20 17:50:11 +0000

Canal & River Trust's response "spun and misinformed"

Canal & River Trust has issued a response to the petition which it has published and also sent to people who tweeted this petition. However, it has been pointed out by an eye-witness to the eviction of "Maggie" that contrary to the Canal & River Trust statement, no representative from any mental health organisation was present at the eviction and it cannot be the case that the mental health organisation supported Canal & River Trust's actions, because no representative was present to observe them. Also, the towpath was not closed to give "Maggie" more privacy; "Maggie" wanted any eviction to be seen by the public as evidence and an indictment of what was being done to her. It is more likely that the closure of the towpath was to afford Canal & River Trust privacy than it was concern for hers.

2014-01-12 11:42:29 +0000

Canal & River Trust's Chief Executive Richard Parry has stated that he will now be personally involved in reviewing all future cases involving illness prior to action being taken to evict boaters from Canal & River Trust's waterways. This is a good start, but Canal & River Trust has still not agreed that it will meet its legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 not to apply its enforcement procedures in a way that discriminates against people on the grounds of disability, age, pregnancy and responsibility for children.

2014-01-06 18:33:11 +0000

Canal & River Trust try to get petition removed

Canal & River Trust have published a response to the petition on their Facebook page which implies that they are trying to get 38degrees to remove this petition because they claim it is inaccurate. Their message states that they spent 15 months trying to work things out with "Maggie" before they took her to Court. However, this does not alter the fact that they evicted a vulnerable woman and seized her home, in the full knowledge that she had nowhere to go. Their response says nothing about the cases of "Derek" and "Harry".

2014-01-04 10:40:40 +0000


2014-01-03 21:53:36 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2014-01-03 15:59:27 +0000

500 signatures reached

2014-01-03 14:45:06 +0000

A boat dweller who has had a serious illness for several years says: my social worker really got a Canal & River Trust employee scared over their pathetic Disability Equality Policy, and a nurse has alerted me to the new End of Life Care law - an individual has the right to choose where they die, Canal & River Trust cannot force a terminally ill person to leave their home. Hope this helps others x

2014-01-03 07:50:54 +0000

100 signatures reached

2014-01-02 23:02:50 +0000

50 signatures reached

2014-01-02 22:05:20 +0000

25 signatures reached

2014-01-02 20:57:49 +0000

10 signatures reached