IWA facilitated the online meeting, with presentations from the Residential Boat Owners Association, the National Bargee Travellers Association and Canal & River Trust. The groups highlighted areas where the Government could provide more support for those living on the waterways.
Michael Fabricant MP, Chair of the Group, led the meeting. It was attended by MPs and peers, officials from Defra and representatives of many waterway organisations and navigation authorities. Also attending were representatives from a number of new and established community mooring co-operatives.
Support for liveaboard boaters
The presentations and the lively discussion that followed identified a number of key issues. More support from Government and other public bodies would be beneficial to:
- Make sure that health, social services or other local authority services are available and accessible to liveaboard communities
- Better co-ordinate between navigation authorities and planning authorities to allow a more constructive and positive response when residential mooring developments are being considered
- Support and help for setting up more boater-managed community or co-operative style moorings
- Better support for reducing the impact on boaters of anti-social behaviour in inner city locations
- Support for navigation authorities in making waterway infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather
- Help for boaters to adapt to low carbon technology to support Government net zero carbon targets
- Ensure no adverse impacts on boaters’ legitimate way of life through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021
- Putting arrangements in place to rectify the missed opportunity in the 2021 Census to collect data about how many people are living on boats, which in turn will help to improve access to public services.
The meeting concluded with Michael Fabricant MP stating that the APPGW would write to the Defra Minister with responsible for waterways, Rebecca Pow MP, to ask her to convene a meeting to discuss these issues with representatives of relevant organisations and government departments.
As well as providing the Secretariat for the APPGW, IWA also lobbies government directly. IWA will continue to press relevant government departments and local authorities to make progress in these areas.