The independent London newspaper

‘Boats are our homes’ campaigners fight loss of mooring sites

‘Heritage is being taken away and sold off everywhere’

24 May, 2019 — By Liv Klingert

Protesters want to stop mooring sites being sold

BOAT dwellers will create a colourful flotilla protest against privatisation of the waterways.

The demonstration, which will include music speeches and children’s activities, follows the removal of 140 feet of public towpath in Paddington as part of a major development.

Campaigners from the National Bargee Travellers Association say the canal is being transformed with an increase of “business mooring” and “no-mooring” sites.

Marcus Trower, deputy chairman of the NBTA, said: “It really affects us because when the mooring spaces are privatised, we can no longer moor there. What’s happening on the water is happening on land. You don’t see much social housing in Paddington any more.

“It’s just posh flats and office spaces now. It’s about making as much money out of an area as possible.”

He added that boat dwellers would be happy to share the space. However, he felt that “not everyone wants to share it with people who have less money”.

Public land is increasingly being privatised across London leading to more people living on boats.

Talking about the waterway life, Mr Trower said: “You have direct relationships with your neighbours on the water, while in a flat you don’t know who your neighbours are.

“That would be rare on the water, everyone knows each other and are really friendly. I’m amazed at neighbours on land who don’t know each other; if someone has a problem here people find out quickly and come around to help.”

Another boat dweller, Graham Ryder, said: “Our heritage is being taken away and sold off everywhere.

“It makes me angry and I feel like we have to do something before our community is broken up and sold off. The community that is already here is well loved by the public and an integral part of the landscape.

“I won’t stand by and watch while they sell of what we all already own.”

The Canal and River Trust, which manages the canals and towpaths, said during a recent consultation on its moorings strategy: “The current popularity of London’s canals is unprecedented.

“More and more people are choosing to live on water, and we are trying to find the right balance between residential, leisure and casual moorings so that everyone can enjoy the waterways.”

The NBTA protest will take place from midday at Paddington Basin tomorrow (Saturday).

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