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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.



2016-11-25 16:58:29 +0000

Progress for disabled boat dwellers: Canal & River Trust investigated by equality monitoring body

In principle Canal & River Trust now accepts that disabled boaters should not have enforcement action taken against them in the same way that it would be taken against an able-bodied boater. However the charity has not been pro-active in informing its customers and the public of their rights under the Equality Act. The charity has also been extremely reluctant to uphold the Equality Act rights of pregnant boat dwellers without permanent moorings. As a result, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is reviewing whether Canal & River Trust is fully meeting its Equality Act obligations. In the mean time the situation for boat dwellers who are not protected by the Equality Act has not improved. See

2015-02-28 22:09:56 +0000

The situation for boat dwellers without permanent moorings generally has taken a serious turn for the worse. On 13th February 2015, Canal & River Trust announced a new policy for all boaters without a permanent mooring. From 1st May it will refuse to re-license all boats that “don’t move ... far enough or often enough” to meet its Guidance for Boaters without a Home Mooring unless they take a permanent mooring - without telling them how far they must travel to avoid having their licence taken away.

Permanent residential moorings that boat dwellers can legally live on are in very short supply. Where they exist, they are very expensive (up to £13,000 per year in London). Please support us by signing, sharing and tweeting this new petition

2015-02-28 22:01:01 +0000

Thanks in part to your this petition, Canal & River Trust appointed a welfare officer in November 2014 to address the needs of some of their most vulnerable customers. While this has helped, the situation has not improved for all. For example, a boat dweller who broke his leg and could not travel at all had his boat licence terminated in January this year. And a couple who live on their boat without a home mooring were given 28 days to prove they were travelling "far enough" after they kept returning to the same place so that one of them could receive medical treatment for a serious heart problem, a travel pattern that is permitted by the British Waterways Act 1995.

2014-11-14 15:49:45 +0000

Following the pressure and adverse publicity brought about by this petition, and lobbying by a number of organisations and individuals, Canal & River Trust has appointed a Welfare Officer whose remit includes assisting the Trust to comply with the Equality Act and intervening in enforcement cases where boat dwellers should be protected by the Equality Act or have welfare needs. This is good news but the situation needs to be monitored to make sure that the Welfare Officer is not just 'facilitating' vulnerable boat dwellers moving off the waterways or 'assisting' them to take moorings that they do not need because of their Equality Act rights not to have the Trust's enforcement procedures applied to them in the same way as to people without protected characteristics under the Act.

2014-08-19 13:01:59 +0100

Petition sent to Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Equality and Human Rights Commission's (EHRC) legal team is considering the issues in the petition after a copy of the petition was sent to the EHRC asking it to contact Canal & River Trust to demand that it meets its Equality Act obligations.

2014-07-10 10:31:33 +0100

Petition delivered but remains open

The petition was handed to the Chief Executive of the Canal & River Trust at the charity's Annual Public Meeting in Birmingham on Tuesday. This was the second attempt to deliver it. The Chief Executive's speech included references to one of the charity's key objectives of "enriching lives". In presenting the petition, we drew the meeting's attention to the disparity between the objective of "enriching lives" and Canal & River Trust's actions in evicting disabled, elderly and vulnerable boat dwellers. However, Chief Executive Richard Parry maintained his claim that Canal & River Trust meets its Equality Act obligations, so the situation will need to be monitored carefully and the petition will remain open for further signatures for the time being.

2014-06-04 12:37:01 +0100

According to a journalist in a local paper who contacted Canal & River Trust this week for its side of the story regarding this petition, Canal & River Trust provided a statement to the effect that if a boat dweller is too old or too ill to move every 14 days then they should consider moving off the canal. The Equality Act specifically prohibits discrimination of this nature.

2014-06-02 13:46:38 +0100

Canal & River Trust ignores equality body

The Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to Canal & River Trust in early May requiring it to meet its obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments needed by a disabled boater. So far Canal & River Trust has refused to make the adjustments that the law requires. At a public meeting on 21st May Chief Executive Richard Parry claimed he knew nothing about the letter although it was addressed to him personally.

2014-05-24 12:43:07 +0100

"Maggie" now living in a tent outside police station

"Maggie", who was brutally evicted from her boat by Canal & River Trust last November, has re-appeared. A friend reports: She is living in a tent outside the police station near to where her boat was seized. Her tent is set up as a "big protest". "Canal & River Trust stole my boat. I want it back" is her message. Every so often a note gets posted on the police station window. "Where's my boat?" Passers by are invited to join her protest by adding a note of their own. Mine said "Canal & River Trust the charityless charity.. Making boaters homeless" If "Maggie" is instructed to move on there can be no telling where her protest will go next. "Maggie" declares Canal & River Trust took her boat illegally and should not be allowed to get away with their legal fancy footwork and bullyboy tactics paid for out of our licence money. Who knows which of Canal & River Trust's customers is next on their hit list?

2014-05-24 12:40:00 +0100

Cancer sufferer forced to move off his boat

A friend reports: "I spoke to the wife of a boater with asbestos related cancer. He is undergoing chemotherapy and is obviously not feeling well. They have been so afraid of losing their boat that they have rented a mooring and have moved into a house. The enforcement officer treated her 'like trash' when there was no-one around, referred to her and her husband as liars and suggested they were only on the River Trent to take advantage of flooding to overstay. The enforcement officer even served an notice on their boat when, as a result of him forcing the couple to leave the moment the Trent at Newark came off flood, the current proved too much for their engine that then failed making it necessary for them to limp back to where they started (if Newark is off flood, the rest of the Trent often is not). The harassment they've received over the last two years is appalling. Charity - what charity?"

2014-04-15 15:47:17 +0100

'Stop evictions' banner appears during royal visit

A banner saying 'Canal & River Trust: Stop evicting disabled ill elderly boat dwellers' appeared on a pensioner's boat during a recent royal visit to Devizes. See

2014-04-09 13:45:41 +0100

Another boat dweller's home has been seized. The owner of the historic wooden narrowboat 'Pearl' first had enforcement action taken against him because he needed to stay in one area for medical appointments. He and his cat are now homeless.

2014-03-17 17:09:14 +0000

Flood conditions yet Canal & River Trust harass man with cancer

According to a supporter of this petition, Canal & River Trust has made life a misery for a man with
asbestos related cancer. They made him move on when the river Trent was in flood and when his boat broke down and the engine had to be removed to a local boatyard for repair, they harassed him continuously. He is now moored in a bad position given the propensity of the Trent to flood. He continues to be hassled by the local enforcement bully boy because as a result of the harassment he is no longer a continuous cruiser but is waiting to move into an arranged mooring.

2014-03-07 14:13:40 +0000

Canal & River Trust to evict yet another pensioner in poor health

Canal & River Trust are planning to evict a boat dweller pensioner who has survived cancer and has other health problems. See

2014-02-23 18:31:05 +0000

Canal & River Trust set to remove the home of boater with serious health problems

Canal & River Trust are taking proceedings to evict a boat dweller who suffers from multiple physical and mental health problems on the Trent and Mersey Canal. See