Friday 17 June 2011

The new BW wants to make its own laws!

In an interesting article on NarrowBoatWorld there is a worrying addendum in the change from Crown Agency to Charity that BW wants to implement.

NBW Quote "In The changeover to a charity British Waterways is sneaking through an amendment giving it power to make subordinate legislation including powers of forcible entry, search or seizure. These powers will also compel the giving of evidence and powers whose exercise will necessarily affect the liberty of an individual may all be transferred to a private sector person who does not otherwise exercise any public functions."

You may wonder why NBW used the phrase "sneaking through an amendment". Well it was because there has been no publicity surrounding the request for the amendment. The startling information only came to light as a result of a Freedom of Information request using the FoI Act.

NBW Quote "It was at a Board meeting in January this year that the possibility of giving British Waterways' successor greater legal powers was raised. The minutes, requested under the Freedom of Information Act, state 'The possibility of introducing greater enforcement powers for British Waterways as part of the new legislation [the Pubic Bodies Bill] was also discussed and Mr Johnson agreed to report back on the subject to the May Board meeting'. Nigel Johnson is British Waterways' Corporate Services Director and Secretary to the Board. Formerly, he was its Legal Director."

Wow! To what purpose could British Waterways be wanting such powers? I am sure that if BW needed to, BW could enlist the help of the Police and Courts to such ends. You would of course have to demonstrate to the courts a valid reason for a search warrant to be issued. The power generators do this all the time whenever they want to make a building safe or to terminate a connection.
So the question is, why would a waterways charity want to use such powers and why would they want to use such powers without recourse to the courts and the police?

Government agencies like the EA have similar, if much watered down additional powers, but they are after all an Agency of the Crown. This  has already sparked some interest in the House of Lords. I am sure that it will also spark a great deal of interest with many other groups who have an interest in the well being of the inland waterways.

NBW Quote "The amendment to the Bill has not been well received by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee of the House of Lords. Put simply, the committee considers it wrong that British Waterways' successor should be given greater legal powers than British Waterways itself now enjoys."

This bombshell revelation will now declare and "open season" on the new charity for the conspiracy theorists, speculators and other motivated groups and individuals.
Mooring with parking meter.

But what if anything could happen?

Well, lets suppose you over stay an a 48 hour mooring. The charity could then send round the "enforcement team" (made up from some of the old off street clamping gangs) and seize your boat. You then have to pay a fine and pay an additional charge to get your boat back from the pound. A similar process to parking your car on a meter and overstaying the time limit.

I can see BW adapting a parking meter to collect money in exchange for the right to moor a boat in a particular place for a limited amount of time. I can imagine the "volunteer BW parking meter maids" as attendants, standing by the meter then slapping a mooring citation notice on your boat as the meter pings over.

BW could combine this with a lottery scratch card, either pay or take a gamble. It has been done in other parts of the world, why not here?

Parking meters could be used for enforcing their integrated canal mooring policy. All related to their yet to be implemented overstaying management policies. This sort of charging could make much more money than the current moorings that you bid on. Even CC'ers would end up paying every time they stopped.

How about, long stretches of canals and rivers being designated as "no mooring" zones (similar to yellow lines on the road) The only moorings available being on a "by the hour" charge meter. I can also imagine the volunteer parking meter maids, patrolling the towpath. Issuing towpath tickets to walkers and cyclists, issuing day permits to fishermen, issuing poop fines to dog walkers.  All related to their yet to be implemented towpath traffic management policies. 

BW already promotes such ideas. Quote "This includes aims such as “long lines of static boats over long periods [will] disappear” and promotes the idea of “breathing spaces”, ie no mooring zones for reasons other than navigational safety."
How about, the canal side properties BW sold to people who now don't want boats to moor outside. Being able to have "resident mooring bays only" so that they can have their cake and eat it.
How about cameras that record boats passing certain points and then being used for working out their average speed. A fine for going to fast. That's happening on the streets today, it could be on the canals tomorrow. If you had been told about the revenue raising bonanza of the safety cameras twenty years ago you would not have believed it.
Tracking devices in vehicles could be adapted and fitted to boats. Then used to identify boats mooring or stopping on cruiseway clearways. Then the automated issue a fine for illegal mooring.
How about points on your boat licence. For each point, the next licence goes up by £50. The technology is here today to implement such ideas. being able to make your own laws would enable such acts to be perpetrated.

What about busy sections of our canals, so that boats entering is limited to odd or even days. I remember a think tank years ago coming up with the idea to limit cars in major towns and cities to odd or even days. Doing this by using the digits making up the registration number.

It may seem far fetched, but parking meters were once thought of as a passing fad that would not work. The yellow lines soon put paid to that theory. Local councils top up their budgets from money raised from on street parking. Why not BW fat cats top up their pensions the same way?

I know, it will never happen.... or will it?


1 comment:

  1. Ouch! I think you've given 'em too many ideas already!!!


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