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Short Stay Moorings on the River Thames - EA Update


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FYI, attached is the EA's latest Boater Briefing - V1 April 2021.

 

In it they lay out some modifications to the 'parking lot style management' of many of its mooring on the Thames by DE (District Enforcement Ltd). This scheme has been implemented in direct opposition to many clearly articulated complaints and worries of boating organisations and Thames boaters. The tone taken by the river authority has been seen by many as overly legalistic and hostile, with fines of £150 and threats of boat removal part of the package. Ultimately, all this is being put in place to remove a tiny minority of people overstaying on EA moorings and some ill-defined 'wild mooring sites'. 

 

Given the outcry, this Briefing seems to represent a minor climbdown by EA, but not much. I find the EA's fixation on 24 hours being a natural and 'reasonable' mooring time to be narrow, unhelpful, even bizarre. This might be fine for a certain type of, call it, 'weekend warrior' (who values solid, day-long cruising with quick night-time stopovers as opposed to, say, cultural exploration by river), but there are so many other different ways people use their boats.

 

We pay a premium for a Gold Licence (GL) on our narrowboat each year. As well as enjoying it as one of the world's most interesting rivers, in order for a GL to be profitable (over buying daily, weekly, monthly Thames licences), we usually try to spend 3+ months on the Thames each year. Given the EA is happy to participate in GL profits, they must accept that a goodly number of boaters will want to spend more than 24 hours somewhere!

 

Anyway, some highlights of the Briefing are:

 

Main Change:

Quote

The main change is that we have decided to remove the requirement that boats register on arrival at any of our sites. Stays of up to 24 hours can be enjoyed at each location without any further action required.

 

Still a fiver/day for two additional days -- payment to DE:

Quote

Between our locks, we maintain designated short stay mooring sites at 17 different locations, ...

Here, mooring will be permitted for up to 24 hours without fee, and for up to 2 additional days for a fee of just £5 per day. Payments for stays of 2-3 days must be made in advance. By far the easiest way to do this will be via DE’s dedicated moorings website: www.where2moor.co.uk. Payments can also be made by phone if it is not possible to access the website for any reason - the number to call is given on the on-site signage. Cash payment is not possible. No return will be permitted within 24 hours.


Wild Mooring Sites:

Quote

We also own other sections of riverbank where we do not encourage mooring, but allow it for a limited period of time, as part of the public right of navigation. ...  Mooring here will be permitted for up to 24 hours only, without fee. No return will be permitted within 72 hours. ...

 

Compliance:

Quote

Trained, uniformed DE employees will carry out regular checks at these sites, recording the presence of boats and evidence of any non-compliance using body-worn cameras to support the application and recovery of any appropriate charges. Users who are in breach of any of the conditions will be charged an additional £150 by DE. ...

 

Red boards, breakdowns and such

Quote

Conditions and any associated fees and charges will not apply within any reach where strong stream warnings are displayed on http://riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk

If you are unable to move from one of our mooring sites for any other reason, you must make DE aware and request an extension to your stay. ...

 

Boater briefing v1 April 2021.pdf

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56 minutes ago, Jim Batty said:

Ultimately, all this is being put in place to remove a tiny minority of people overstaying on EA moorings and some ill-defined 'wild mooring sites'.

Who will ignore it anyway

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53 minutes ago, Jim Batty said:

Precisely! 

 

Reading Tesco moorings are an excellent case in point.

 

The popular moorings at Reading - by which I assume you mean  at Caversham and every one else as the 'Tesco moorings'  is not an EA mooring - it's owned by Reading BC.

Before DE came on the scene much of the pontooned part was camped on by CMers and the council became fed up with complaints from boaters who (as I do) wanted to shop at Tescos and couldn't - DE came up with a solution and thus the general takeover of Thames moorings began.

My particular beef with DE is that their mooring site is pathetic -

  • incorrect locations shown (river banks don't have postcodes),
  • length of mooring illogical (- shown as number of "bays" ??car length  or width - or something else)

The net result is that any reasonable boater will either avoid any official mooring (DE 'manage' EA's and various other third party owned banksides) or run the risk of being hounded for unenforceable files.

The Thames used to be a joy to cruise, offical moorings were clearly marked.

Unofficial - wild moorings were tolerated as long as boaters behaved

A good time was had by all.

 

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Thanks OldGoat

 

Yes, I believe you're right about the Tesco moorings belonging to Reading BC. When all the 'parking fine' signs went up, they either immediately disappeared or became ad hoc 'artworks' plastered with much more interesting material than the original. At least the wooden jetty moorings became clear when the CMers moved downstream from them. So, yea, it's nice to be able to pull in, shop, and leave again. 

 

We couldn't get out onto the Thames last year due to Covid and shielding, but I take it DE will be patrolling such moorings as those at Goring, Iffley, Osney, etc., and you will no longer just be able to pay the lock keeper. 

 

It does seem to be getting more complicated by the year.

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37 minutes ago, Jim Batty said:

Thanks OldGoat

 

Yes, I believe you're right about the Tesco moorings belonging to Reading BC. When all the 'parking fine' signs went up, they either immediately disappeared or became ad hoc 'artworks' plastered with much more interesting material than the original. At least the wooden jetty moorings became clear when the CMers moved downstream from them. So, yea, it's nice to be able to pull in, shop, and leave again. 

 

We couldn't get out onto the Thames last year due to Covid and shielding, but I take it DE will be patrolling such moorings as those at Goring, Iffley, Osney, etc., and you will no longer just be able to pay the lock keeper. 

 

It does seem to be getting more complicated by the year.

My reading of the email was that moorings at locks will still continue the be controlled by the lock keeper.  It is EA mooring sites remote from locks (I think it said 17 in number) that will be administered by DE.

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21 minutes ago, john6767 said:

My reading of the email was that moorings at locks will still continue the be controlled by the lock keeper.  It is EA mooring sites remote from locks (I think it said 17 in number) that will be administered by DE.

I hope you're right. The experience I have in mind is at the Osney moorings. Two summers ago they were plastered all over with 'parking fine' signage. You could pay the lock keeper for Day 2 and Day 3 ... or you could pay the very welcoming and sympathetic Thames Moorings either online or via a phone call. To me this latest Boater Briefing suggests they are doing away with cash payments -- and DE is who is paid online or via phone. The whole affair is much friendlier when it involves the lock keepers -- who you often already know from locking and previous cruising.

 

I guess a good example of a 'remote site' are the Wargrave moorings -- below Shiplake. But I find it difficult to believe that DE 'officers' with their 'body-cams' will be regularly patrolling those moorings, given how isolated they are. Surely it would cost them much more in wages and vehicle petrol to get people in there to patrol it every day or two than a boater's fiver here and tenner there. 

 

We'll soon see, when we get down there in June!

 

 

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3 hours ago, Jim Batty said:

I hope you're right. The experience I have in mind is at the Osney moorings. Two summers ago they were plastered all over with 'parking fine' signage. You could pay the lock keeper for Day 2 and Day 3 ... or you could pay the very welcoming and sympathetic Thames Moorings either online or via a phone call. To me this latest Boater Briefing suggests they are doing away with cash payments -- and DE is who is paid online or via phone. The whole affair is much friendlier when it involves the lock keepers -- who you often already know from locking and previous cruising.

 

I guess a good example of a 'remote site' are the Wargrave moorings -- below Shiplake. But I find it difficult to believe that DE 'officers' with their 'body-cams' will be regularly patrolling those moorings, given how isolated they are. Surely it would cost them much more in wages and vehicle petrol to get people in there to patrol it every day or two than a boater's fiver here and tenner there. 

 

We'll soon see, when we get down there in June!

 

 

The whole issue of boat moorings is a diabolical muddle   (oh for a spreeing checker back again). 

We've been boating on the Thames ('cos it's the nearest waters) since god was a boy and mooring was easy and pleaseant because boaters of all types FOLLOWED The RULES (or the spirit thereof). As Society has changed from an implied 'let's work together where possible' to one of 'I'm empowered to do what I like because I Can', so has the use and sharing of moorings has chaged as well.

 

Unlike the canal system - where CRT owns thr track and the towpath and therby control who can moor and where - EA only owns the water (in general) and moorings are left to landowners to control as they will.

EA have set rules for a few moorings which are adjancet to locks which can be managed by the local lockie and IME in general these work well for both EA and the boater. For EA that leaves a few moorings that it owns but which are impractical for the lockie to control - thus they have been passed to DE.

 

If 'we' must be controlled at least there's some form of consistency for boaters - and I hope that DE follow EA's style when pitching for other landowners mooring business so that the boater can assume a consistent policy. Otherwise more and more boaters may decide that the Thames should be avoided - because it's not safe to use designated moorings.

 

 

 

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Good to see the EA finally (but still only partially) climb-down from their unlawful attempt to allow a private parking company to impose conditions under threat of substantial penalty charges in default.  The removal of the ridiculous condition of having to register arrival at any time is welcome but it was never going to be tolerated by most users and would never have stood up in court.

 

But by now stating they "No return is permitted within 72-hours" they are still in breach of the provisions of the Thames Conservancy Act 1932 - Section 136 - which states that "in respect of vessels using any of the moorings in the Thames belonging to the Conservators (now EA)  the charges appointed by the Conservators from time to time save THAT NO CHARGE SHALL BE MADE FOR VESSELS TIED UP OR MOORED AT NIGHT or for a reasonable time ..... 

 

A "reasonable time" now seems to have been defined as 24-hours which may be fair enough (although this would still certainly leave room for dispute in certain circumstances such as mechanical failure or personal emergency) but there is no legal basis whatsoever for imposing penalty charges on boaters returning to a mooring for an OVERNIGHT stay.

 

And, unlike private parking schemes where an independent appeals service is mandatory there is still no such equivalent appeals service in respect of moorings charges against the excesses of District Enforcement Ltd often witnessed elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, erivers said:

Good to see the EA finally (but still only partially) climb-down from their unlawful attempt to allow a private parking company to impose conditions under threat of substantial penalty charges in default.  The removal of the ridiculous condition of having to register arrival at any time is welcome but it was never going to be tolerated by most users and would never have stood up in court.

 

But by now stating they "No return is permitted within 72-hours" they are still in breach of the provisions of the Thames Conservancy Act 1932 - Section 136 - which states that "in respect of vessels using any of the moorings in the Thames belonging to the Conservators (now EA)  the charges appointed by the Conservators from time to time save THAT NO CHARGE SHALL BE MADE FOR VESSELS TIED UP OR MOORED AT NIGHT or for a reasonable time ..... 

 

A "reasonable time" now seems to have been defined as 24-hours which may be fair enough (although this would still certainly leave room for dispute in certain circumstances such as mechanical failure or personal emergency) but there is no legal basis whatsoever for imposing penalty charges on boaters returning to a mooring for an OVERNIGHT stay.

 

And, unlike private parking schemes where an independent appeals service is mandatory there is still no such equivalent appeals service in respect of moorings charges against the excesses of District Enforcement Ltd often witnessed elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

I think you may have to troll though more than the TCAs to get a definitive / current answer - Try TWA 2010 for starters.

Regardless of that nobody's going to monitor the moorings  in the dark or very early in the morning.

Thus don't dampen your underwear...

 

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About to enter the Thames Wednesday heading for K&A. So will see first hand what this is about. Not looking fwd to having to deal with on commission jobs worths but hey ho onwards and upwards. 

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On 29/04/2021 at 15:57, Jim Batty said:

 

I guess a good example of a 'remote site' are the Wargrave moorings -- below Shiplake. But I find it difficult to believe that DE 'officers' with their 'body-cams' will be regularly patrolling those moorings, given how isolated they are. Surely it would cost them much more in wages and vehicle petrol to get people in there to patrol it every day or two than a boater's fiver here and tenner there. 

 

 

It certainly seems that way and I can't see the DE bods happily walking there from their van.

 

In days gone by  the daily Navigation Officer's boat patrol would have provided evidence of how long a boat was on a given EA mooring but those stopped years ago.

 

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Indeed, in the summer I think we see the an EA patrol boat about once every month or two. So no massive presence there. 

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11 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

It certainly seems that way and I can't see the DE bods happily walking there from their van.

 

In days gone by  the daily Navigation Officer's boat patrol would have provided evidence of how long a boat was on a given EA mooring but those stopped years ago.

 

I would think thats cheaper

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