British Waterways have opened a consultation about traders overstaying at Audlem. NABO has been invited to respond, so we invite members to add any comments below before January 21st 2012 so that NABO Council can put a response together.
For some time, the owners of Audlem Mill have lobbied British Waterways about abuse of the visitor moorings, particularly by trading boats, some of whom sell products in competition with the Mill. Their contention is that trading boats regularly overstay on the visitor moorings and thereby prevent private and hired boats from tying up to patronise village stores and services.
BW wants to formulate local rules which, providing they are adhered to, result in an optimal balance between two ostensibly competing objectives - visitors finding available moorings and boaters, locals and motorists using trade boats.
Questions British Waterways pose that we would like your views and knowledge of are:
What, if any, (additional) restrictions should be applied to mooring between Locks 12 and 13?
Is 24 hours the appropriate maximum stay time to try and enforce? Should restrictions be placed on use of the stretch by trading boats? If so, what should they be? Should they be rationed by means of a (charged) daily trading permit? Might the Parish Council consider administering this on BW’s behalf?
Should we sign dedicated trading boat moorings in a nearby Audlem pound?
If so, where would they best be sited? How many? What duration? And should a daily charge apply?
What assistance could the local community provide to enable BW to enforce restrictions?
The shorter the advertised time limit, the more frequent is the requirement to log boat arrivals and departures. Our main need is for agency or volunteer ‘data checkers’, whom we could equip with the means to submit boat sightings into our national database. For more explanation of our mooring control methods, see para 4b below. We see two possible approaches:
Volunteers: we already have a small team of volunteers based in the Audlem area who help BW with a variety of tasks. We could explore their willingness to add data checking to their routines. We could advertise for further volunteers. However, this duty may not sit comfortably with their other customer facing roles, and it will be difficult to guarantee consistent frequency of checks. We have yet to complete a successful pilot scheme for volunteer data checkers so full implementation for the summer of 2012 would be unlikely.
Agents: a commercial agreement with an established local business might be a more practical way forward. Remuneration would be linked to results, probably measured through frequency and number of sightings uploaded into our database.
In either case, the consequence of overstaying for the boat owner would be the application of an extended stay charge. Alternatives involving forceful removal of the boat from the site are not practical. Extended stay charges would provide a fund for the payment of agency fees.
When commenting it might be worth considering the fact that in all likelihood any changes would be administered not by British Waterways, but by the new charity: the Canal and River Trust.