Friday, February 01, 2013

The cat is truly among the pigeons

Well I don't suppose there is any surprise that there is an explosion of debate about CRTs new visitor mooring proposals.  At my last visit, the canalworld forum thread was up to seventeen pages.  As usual the quality of the debate is pretty mixed, varying from distressingly dumb to quite sensible,  but one or two good points have been made.

Perhaps the main one is "why bother?" -  for most of the people most of the time it is not impossible to find a spot to moor overnight at or close to hotspots.  Certainly at the ones specifically listed that we have been to, we have always managed to squeeze in, albeit getting the last spot at the end of the row.  I wonder if the Southern region has been chosen because it is the least contentious? Now if the consultation concerned the Regents canal I would feel quite differently.  In our experience you have a poor chance of getting in for the night at Victoria park, an virtually no chance at visitor moorings at Islington tunnel and Camden.  Ditto Little Venice.  But on the GU, its busy and fullish but do-able.  I have never cruised the south Oxford in high season but I suspect that may well be a problem.  In any case I can't see why any measures couldn't be seasonal, confined to the peak holiday weeks.

Will it get adequately policed?  Most doubt it.  Some of these places are fairly out of the way, and the system as proposed depends on a volunteer logging boats each and every day.   Many fear that the loggers will be unreasonable types, but in the old mooring warden days we found most to be very reasonable, so I don't accept that as a reason.

Supposing you stop for an hour for lunch or to shop when the counter walks past and logs you in, then move off and  you return two days later to stop for a couple of days.  Will that be an overstay?  The only solution I can think of to stop that happening would be for the counting patrols to take place late evening or early morning when anyone tied up will have properly stopped for the night.

What about hire boats?  Well of course they are extremely unlikely to stay put for more than a day or two because they are paying a fortune for their holiday and want to get on with their journey.  However, as some one pointed out the same boat will be back most weeks, therefore breaking the number of days in any month rule.  People suspect that hire companies would get separate treatment because of this.

What about "weekenders?"  This is one I hadn't thought of.  If you have a permanent non residential mooring and you work during the week, you may want to take your boat out at weekends.  Inevitably that means that you will end up mooring at the same spots with some regularity and fall foul of the rules.  I don't call that hogging a mooring.

Then one last one of my own.

Is two days enough in a tourist centre?  I'm thinking of Oxford.  If you can only stay two nights, then that really means only one full day to visit the town.  Not enough.  Three nights would be better.

These all seem to me to be valid points.  On the other side of the coin there are the stupid points that just wind me up.

 "It's all a ploy for CRT to make money" - Don't be stupid, if they wanted to do that, they would make the overstay a fiver or a tenner, payable in cash at a meter.  That would raise money because people might think it worth it for an extra day or two. The point is to get people to free the space, so the inducement has to be high. In fact if I were CRT I would make the fine £50 a day or even more.  That way people would actually move, and I wouldn't have all the costs of fighting for the money.  At £25 CRT wont even cover the costs of recovery.  (In fact on the Regents canal I would introduce towing away as the only way of making the buggers move.  I accept that people may wish to moor their boat permanently, but not at a visitor mooring in a city.  It's like parking your caravan at the only bus stop for ten miles.  It makes it very difficult to plan a journey through east London.)

Nor do I accept remarks about the Thrupp mafia.  What they have created there is a pleasant row of moorings with a very reasonable length of stay.  All are welcome as long as they don't stay any longer, and the mooring wardens or whatever they are that I met were pleasant and courteous.  There is not a lot of mooring down that end of the canal and if people were allowed to stay there for weeks on end, then the traveller would have nowhere to stop.

Then a gang of folk are whipping up a petition against the proposals.  I fear they are wasting their time.  Not because CRT will steamroller it through, but because they will either change it in the light of comments or abandon it, albeit perhaps after a trial period.  Sure it'll work at places like Thrupp, it already does, but at others I think the volunteer loggers will be the problem as will the people who just ignore the rules and refuse to pay anyway.

I shall send in my comments along the lines of the above.  If there were to be an early trial, then I suggest Thrupp is not a good place because is is atypical.  I would go for Bulbourne or Marsworth or Banbury if it were me.  A definite trial with a start and end date and an open review to follow.

PS All praise to Alan Fincher, who has made the most balanced and sensible (and informed) comment on the forum.

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