Bath Bomb #32 Out Now
media and culture |
Thursday August 19, 2010 13:46 by BBJ - The Bath Bomb editorial collective
The latest offering from the dark underbelly of proud, proud Bath
THE BATH BOMB
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“Fast, aggressive, and it wants your sandwich!”
Armaggedon Outta Here
An unpalatable modern-day truth is that human life, far from being sacred, is deemed expendable, almost an inconvenience, when the collision of politics, power and economics provokes conflict. Then, the bigger the conflict, the greater the number of lives wasted.
This month marks an especially poignant anniversary. In 1945, U.S. President Harry S. Truman took the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan: 'Little Boy' was detonated over Hiroshima on August 6th in that year ; on August 9th, 'Fat Man' was exploded over Nagasaki. Both cities were near-obliterated.
The tens of thousands who died instantly were mostly civilians. The 'rationale' for these acts of mass slaughter, if it is even possible to dignify them with that term, was that Hiroshima and Nagasaki had considerable industrial and military significance, and that their annihilation would put an end to Japanese prospects of territorial aggrandisement , terminating their involvement in World War II.
The body-count from both atrocities was a tragic coda to the tally of the total lives squandered in the entire six-year conflict. The American propaganda machine sought to spin what was in effect mass murder into a moral and military 'success', claiming that if the Japanese hadn't surrendered after two of their cities had thus been blown to pieces, then a land invasion would have undoubtedly had to be carried out to achieve the same effect, costing the lives of thousands of U.S. troops.
It shows just what a moral vacuum the U.S. high command were living in when they had to skulk behind a hypothesis to avoid copping the blame for what in anyone else's language would be interpreted as a cold-blooded war crime.
The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, and still is, indefensible. You can never 'save' lives by taking them. We all need to be reminded of the horrors which took place in Japan in early August 1945, because the nuclear monster that was unleashed upon the world then is still with us. It lurks off the British coast in the form of the Trident submarine fleet.
To tout the power-plant used by these weapons-in-waiting, as Cameron's government is now doing, as a domestic energy source, shows that politicians continue to bamboozle the public with smokescreens while they harbour fantasies of nuking their way to world domination.
To blow billions on an unnecessary armament upgrade at a time of swingeing public service cuts would be laughable were it not such an obscenity.
Join The Resistance!
Considering the state's massive attack on ordinary people, with cuts to jobs, services, pensions and benefits, the time has come to fight back. We should not be expected to pay for the crises caused by politicians and bankers. We are not all 'in this together' – the rich politicians in the Cabinet and the bankers with their bonuses are not affected. Members of B.A.N., along with others in the trade unions, are setting up an anti-cuts campaign in Bath, fighting to protect every job and defend pensions, services and benefits from cuts. The campaign is open to all those affected by government policy. We need to organise and fight back together.
The campaign will be organising a big public meeting at the end of September, and hopes to attract support from all affected groups. If you wish to get involved, contact johnbamphylde[at]yahoo.co.uk or phone 07908 355456.
More info is to follow in next month's issue, but here are some important dates for your diary: the next Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance committee meeting is at the Bell, Tuesday 24th August, 8pm; Sunday 3rd October will be a national day of action outside the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham; Wednesday 20th October will be the day of budget announcement; and Saturday 23rd October will be a regional day of action against the planned cuts.
Fight And Unite!
Some anarchists argue that the main trade unions are bureaucratic, their leaders have sold out and they have little relevance to working class people. They argue that anarchists should form their own unions. However, many young people find unions boring and do not really understand what they are. Others argue back that unions are still workers' organisations, that they could still be the force to take on the capitalist state, and that workers should join and fight within unions to make them more democratic and combative.
At the Bath Socialist Forum meeting on Monday 30th August, at 8pm, we will be discussing the way forward for workers in trades unions, presented by John Bamphylde of Bath Trades Council. The following meeting, on Monday 27th September, will be presented by film-maker Ken Loach. The meetings take place at St James Wine Vaults, and all are welcome.
Killer Faces Unemployment!
A disciplinary hearing is to be held against P.C. Simon Harwood on the grounds of gross misconduct with regards to an attack on Ian Tomlinson on April 1st 2009. It is considered likely the outcome will be immediate dismissal.
I pose this question, doesn't it seem a bit extreme to take away this man's occupation simply for a light shove? After all, to push from behind is all part and parcel with policing a large-scale protest. Certainly, Tomlinson wasn't dead immediately after the incident, so why then should Mr Harwood be subjected to mix with the doleys and scroungers?
A few individuals are claiming the P.C. to be guilty of manslaughter and hence deserves to lose his livelihood. These people are clearly revenge-bent or deranged as it is well known that there has been a long (and naturally therefore thorough) investigation by the C.P.S., which decided there was no case. Irrefutably trustworthy pathological evidence has shown the man died of natural causes. Further, the video footage doesn't even show the man hitting the ground, let alone gaining injuries. Surely only one conclusion can be reached, that P.C. Simon Harwood is undeniably innocent.
Clearly, it was a highly volatile situation and a police officer cannot be blamed for getting a bit touchy-feely. If people get so het up about this, then with the home office more and more concerned about P.R., in the end we'll have a police force too scared to catch any criminals.
Transition Bath are starting up a new scheme in Bathampton, working with the Hughes family to restore a six acre area of land to organic production, and hope to bring together locals to explore how this can be done. Transition Bath are a local environmentalist group aiming to build a sustainable future using the power of community, in the face of declining natural resources and increasing costs. They hope to make the transition to a low carbon, local economy, whilst creating positive, self-reliant communities. This project should turn out to be the first Community Supported Agriculture (C.S.A.) scheme in the city – a partnership between farmers and the surrounding community, providing mutual benefits for both, and reconnecting people to the land. Whether you would like to grow your own, meet other locals, or get involved in a project to help reduce food bills and food miles, why not come along to the end of Holcombe Lane, near Holcombe Farm, Bathampton, at 1pm, on Sunday the 15th August for a barbecue and fruit pick. All donations to Transition Bath will be much appreciated. For more info, contact Jamie Colston at jamiecolston[at]gmail.com, or ring 01225 851377.
Another example of the link between ethical sustainability, the community and the food we eat, has been going on down at the Riverside Youth Centre on London Road since 2001. The London Road Food Co-op is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit members' co-operative, opening Wednesdays from 4-7pm at the end of the lane behind the former Porter Butt pub. Membership is affordable and paid annually on a sliding voluntary scale between £3 and £10, and members get access to a whole host of organic, fairly traded and vegan-friendly wholefoods and groceries, without the price mark-up you will see in other stores. In the past the co-op has also operated a weekly veg, fruit, egg and bread scheme, which it hopes to revive. In the meantime, though, this is a great little friendly project, and is keen to attract members and volunteers. If you do want to find out more, why not pop along, or give them a call on 07837 784715?
Food Fayre Thought
Lazily aping our article from last month, in case you didn't catch it, Saturday the 4th September will mark the day of the second annual Bath Vegan Fayre! Running from 12 midday til 4pm downstairs at Manvers Street Baptist Church, free entry, expect hours of free vegan savoury and sweet delights, as well as a sprinkling of talks and conversation, with a (non-dairy) creamy after-taste of nutritional and ethical info. In a delicious dash of déjà vu, there will also be a benefit gig at the Hobgoblin on Friday 27th August, from 8pm, featuring bands and D.J.s, £3 entry. Helpers for both would be much appreciated! E-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk, or ring 07717 130954 for further info. And again, don't forget Bristol's grassroots vegan fayre/fair, taking place on Saturday 30th October in a venue near you.
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London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road
Bathampton Community Growers workday, Thursdays, 10am-dusk, Mill Lane, Bathampton, e-mail thelostplot[at]googlemail.com/ tel Chris 07792 444628
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard
Bradford-On-Avon peace vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, by the peace statue opposite Westbury Gardens by the Town Bridge, Bradford-On-Avon
Recycle Your Sundays, Sundays, 10.30am, starts Abbey Churchyard, the regular series of sociable, easy-paced cycle rides, tel Hazel 01225 469199
Climate Camp Ireland, Thursday 16th to Monday 20th August, Victoria Bridge, County Tyrone,
Quebec Climate Action Camp, Wednesday 18th August to Sunday 22nd August,
Family Fun Day – Outdoor Cooking workshop, Thursday 19th August, 12-3pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, £15 per family (suitable for over 7s), booking essential
Camp for Climate Action UK, Thursday 19th August to Tuesday 24th August, Edinburgh
talk: 'The Venus Project', Saturday 21st August, 1-5pm, Victoria Rooms - The Auditorium University of Bristol, Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1SA, £16.02 entry
Climate Camp Germany, Saturday 21st August to Sunday 29th August, Erkelenz- Borschemich
film: 'The War Game', Sunday 22nd August, 2.30pm, the Arnolfini, Bristol
Bath Hunt Saboteurs meeting, Monday 23rd August, 8-9pm, The Bell, tel Justin 07854 062336
Bath Anti-Cuts Alliance committee meeting, Tuesday 24th August, 8pm, The Bell, Walcot Street
Bath Stop the War meeting, Wednesday 25th August, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, York Street, Bath, BA1 1NG
Family Fun Day – Build Your Own Pond workshop, Thursday 26th August, 12-3pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, £15 per family (suitable for over 7s), booking essential
Bath Vegan Fayre benefit gig, Friday 27th August, 8-11pm, Hobgoblin, St James Parade; more details tbc
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil: vote with your money against Trident, Saturday 28th August, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard, other Bath human rights/trade & development/ justice/trades union organisations are invited to support Critical Mass Bike Ride, Saturday 28th August, 1pm, Kingsmead Square
Climate Justice Action meeting at the Netherlands Earth First! Gathering, Saturday 28th August to Sunday 29th August, Utrecht
Bath Animal Action info stall, Sunday 29th August, 2-4pm, Stall Street, e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk
Transition Bath Social, Monday 30th August, 7.15pm, the Love Lounge/ back room of the Bell, Walcot Street; bring food to share
Bath Socialist Forum meeting, Monday 30th August, 8pm, upstairs St James Wine Vaults, presented by John Bamphylde/Bath Trades Council
one year part-time 'Practical Sustainability' course, starts September 2010, Bristol; exploring permaculture design, organic horticulture, woodland management, green building, ecological interactions, energy, group dynamics, re-localisation, creating change, community engagement and more
Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 2nd September, 7.30-9pm, downstairs at The Hobgoblin, St James Parade
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Thursday 2nd to Friday 3rd September, St Werburgh's City Farm, Boiling Wells, Bristol, BS2 9YJ, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bath Vegan Fayre, Saturday 4th September, 12-4pm, Manvers Street Baptist Church, free entry
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Saturday 4th September, St Werburgh's City Farm, Boiling Wells, Bristol, BS2 9YJ, 2.30pm & 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Sunday 5th September, St Werburgh's City Farm, Boiling Wells, Bristol, BS2 9YJ, 2.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 8th September, 8.30pm, the Rising Sun, Grove Street
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Thursday 9th to Friday 10th September, Hampton Row Allotments, Bathwick, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, Saturday 11th September, 10.30-6pm, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol; e-mail bristolanarchistbookfair[at]riseup.net
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Saturday 11th September, Hampton Row Allotments, Bathwick, 2.30pm & 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Sunday 12th September, Hampton Row Allotments, Bathwick, 2.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bath Animal Action meeting, Monday 13th September, 8-9pm, The Bell, Walcot Street, e-mail bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Thursday 16th to Friday 17th September, Peasedown St John Community Farm, Dunkerton Hill, BA2 8PJ, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Saturday 18th September, Peasedown St John Community Farm, Dunkerton Hill, BA2 8PJ, 2.30pm & 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bristol Free Vegan Food Fair benefit gig, Saturday 18th September, 7.30pm, the Black Swan pub, 438 Stapleton Road, Bristol, feat Daddy Long Bones, Budd, Molly Samson, Ren, D.J. Dub Simian & The Long Dead Beat, £3/£4 entry
Regional South West Animal Rights Coalition meeting, Sunday 19th September, 12-5pm, The Factory, Cave Street, central Bristol
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Sunday 19th September, Peasedown St John Community Farm, Dunkerton Hill, BA2 8PJ, 2.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Thursday 23rd to Friday 24th September, Bloomfield Allotments, Bear Flat, 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Saturday 25th September, Bloomfield Allotments, Bear Flat, 2.30pm & 7.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Kilter theatre: 'Roots: Replanted' (performance about food security issues), Sunday 26th September, Bloomfield Allotments, Bear Flat, 2.30pm, £9 (£7 concessions), tel 01225 386777 to book
Bath Socialist Forum meeting, Monday 27th September, 8pm, upstairs St James Wine Vaults, presented by Ken Loach
No Borders Camp Belgium, Wednesday 29th September to Sunday 3rd October, Brussels
National March for Farmed Animals, Saturday 2nd October, 12pm start, Cavendish Square, London
anti-Tory demonstration, Sunday 3rd October, Tory Party Conference, Birmingham more details tbc
Legal fees benefit punk gig: 'SUBVERT 2010 - A Festival Of Resistance', Friday 8th to Sunday 10th October, Bristol, feat Hellkrusher, Ruidosa Immunidicia, War All The Time, Ignosy, The Wankys, The Extinguishers & Bulletridden, as well as vegan cafés/ stalls/ films/ workshops & picnic; more details tbc
Regional day of action against the cuts, Saturday 23rd October
Bristol Free Vegan Food Fair, Saturday 30th October, 12-5pm, Broadmead Baptist Church, Union Street, Bristol, BS1 3HY
Coalition of the Resistance Conference, Saturday 27th November, London, more details tbc
Camp for Climate Action Australia, Wednesday 1st to Sunday 5th December, Bayswater Power Station
Climate Camp Aotearoa, Thursday 16th to Tuesday 21st December, Wellington New Zealand
The Only Good Boss Is A Dead Boss?
B&NES Council has managed to well and truly shit on its workers once again through its recent advertisement of a new job role to fill. After cutting loose 70 staff in the last couple months, and planning at least another 300 job losses in the near future, the creation of the new Head of Property post, with its wage packet of between £71,166 and £76,638 per year, tells those former employees exactly what the council thinks of them. The creation of this managerial role could only happen once the rank and file, who actually do the work rather than just fanny around sacking people, had been let go. Set to manage (i.e. leave them all boarded up for years then flog) the council's portfolio of 1,000 buildings, many in retail, worth more than £500 million, this has left union officials furious with the council chiefs. But here at the Bath Bomb, considering the calibre of inhuman slitherings and evolutionary dead-ends infesting the rest of B&NES's Property Services department, we wonder what sort of two-faced reptilian abomination they'll dredge up to fill that role, and which carnival freak show will soon be missing its star attraction?
Bath Activist Network are a local umbrella group campaigning on issues as diverse as development, environmentalism, anti-war, animal rights, workers' rights and more. Helping to produce the Bath Bomb, we are open to anyone, and our members range from trade unionists to anarchists, liberals and greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, e-mail bathactivistnet[at]yahoo.co.uk, or see our website: http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
Gull War Syndrome
There's an epidemic going on! You may or may not have heard about the killer seagulls roaming the streets of bath. Or, EVEN WORSE the murderous foxes patrolling EVERY CITY IN THE UK!!! looking for pets and children to eat. The national press have bravely soldiered on to warn the general public of these menaces, one Bath photographer took his life in his hands to get a picture of the gull menace close up.
Bath landlords are feeling the need to join brave vigilante groups to oil the eggs and stop the demon spawn escaping. Unfortunately these brave souls have neglected to think about why wild animals would chose to move into urban areas.
The only reason that wildlife can survive in cities is our attitude to waste. Pigeons, gulls and foxes all survive on the disgusting amount of food waste scattered all over. 'Gull prevention measures' in one part of Bath simply move the problem to the next street. If homeowners, landlords and the council made a concerted effort to get rid of the birds they could do so easily. All it takes is to clean up our waste.
The disposable culture we live in means that a huge amount is thrown out, a lack of adequate recycling facilities (along with pure laziness on many peoples part) means that waste is left on our streets for days before being collected. Along with animals being able to survive on all of this, it also poses risks to them. The fact that food waste, when not composted, is mixed in with other rubbish means that animals are at risk of choking, poisoning, and numerous other horrible deaths - leading to the sight of rotting corpses on our streets. Surely not good for the tourists?
In order to ensure humans are kept away from this dangerous wildlife entirely, we need to make our cities uninhabitable to these menaces. Cleaning up after yourself – rather than tossing the blame at any old scapegoat – should do it.
From Our Unclothed Correspondent
“On Sunday 13th June, I took part in the first proper 'Bristol World Naked Bike Ride', to protest against oil dependency, in favour of curbing car culture and to have car- free Sundays in the city and a celebration of body freedom. By riding nude, protesters demonstrate the vulnerability of cyclists on the busy streets. It also feels good and liberating.
We met at the Full Moon pub, Stokes Croft, Bristol at 12 noon, and it was a lovely hot sunny day so people started stripping off beforehand in the beer garden, as you had to stay dressed inside the pub.
The ride headed off about 1pm, most of the cyclists were naked including myself, some were body-painted, others had small costumes on, it's a clothes-optional protest, but the more that are nude the better. There was no police presence.
Spectators lined some of the route cheering and enjoying the event which went through Broadmead, Castle Green, the Centre, Baldwin St, Old Market and College Green, where we stopped for a photo call before heading back to the Full Moon where many remained naked outside until leaving late afternoon.
The protest was a great success, with good photos on Bristol Indymedia, and the local press. The World Naked Bike Ride is an international event and this year there were rides in London, Brighton, Southampton, York, Sheffield and Manchester, it's growing. It's also showing that there is nothing wrong with the human body and being a free spirit.”
Hitting The Books
Continuing with the current plugging craze, the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair follows hot on the Bath Vegan Fayre's heels, on Saturday 11th September. There is a definite growth of anarchist and alternative bookfairs happening through the U.K. and abroad, which shows both increased co-operation between different anarchist trends, and a growing interest in finding an alternative to the failures of capital – not too surprising, considering the state our economy and planet is in! The event will feature two floors of stalls, workshops, books, zines, merchandise, and talks, plus a radical history zone, film room, creche and vegan café. Taking place at Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft in Bristol, from 10.30am to 6pm, the fair (they obviously didn't quite have the gumption to go with 'fayre') is free and accessible to all, and is guaranteed to open both eyes and wallets.
Don't Think We're Alone Now
For our Bristol readers, 'The Autonomist', Bristol's new radical news sheet and directory, is out now: get it online at http://www.bristolautonomist.blogspot.com!
I Would Have Got Away With It Too, If It Wasn't For You Heddlu Kids
The long-awaited Welsh Climate Camp/Climate Camp Cymru went into action on Friday 13th of this month, focusing once more on the polluting evils of the coal extraction industry, and set up near the Selar and Nant-Helen (due for expansion) opencast coal mines, in Glyn-Neath in South Wales. Both mines are owned by Celtic Energy. The Selar mine itself destroyed a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) back in the 1990s, for added ecocide – trashing vital marsh thistles, and failing to rehome the colony of rare marsh fritillary butterflies. For the camp itself, as with previous camps, a positive agenda of decentralised, renewable power systems, communal living, eco-action planning and skillshare workshops were all on the cards.
However, the Welsh police put paid to all that the next day, prematurely evicting the site and 30 or so activists present, drawing on a massive outlay of mounted police and at least 15 riot vans full. Maybe Friday the 13th wasn't such a good day after all?
On related news, the 13 remaining defendants of April's Ffos-y-fran coal train blockade were conditionally discharged at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court on the Friday; the other five had their charges dropped in July. A lifelong restraining order barring them from the vicinity of Aberthaw Power Station and the Ffos-y-fran mine hangs round their necks. They were greeted outside court by more mounted police, two riot vans and the flashes of BBC and ITV photographers. Ahh, the price of fame.
Building Bridges On The Canal
The community of travelling boaters on the Kennet and Avon believe that British Waterways (B.W.) is attempting to harness the prejudices of certain parts of the settled community against them in order to implement its latest unjust and unlawful proposals.
Liveaboard boaters are part of the character of the canal - we attract visitors to canal-side businesses, and the presence of lived-in boats provides all-year round security and assistance on the towpath, benefitting cyclists, joggers, walkers, fishermen and other boaters. Our presence deters crime and anti-social behaviour. Boaters contribute to the community in many other ways. Some work in childcare, teaching or nursing, others in local businesses. Some are artists, musicians and craftspeople, painters or welders, helping to keep the traditional crafts and heritage of the canals alive.
Boats without moorings cruise from place to place as they are entitled to do by law. According to the 1995 British Waterways Act, they can moor on the towpath side of the canal for 14 days in one place, except where there are short-term visitor moorings. They may stay longer if it is reasonable in the circumstances, for example illness or engine breakdown. However, B.W. has a long history of attempting to get rid of us, going back to the 1980s, when Parliament rejected their original draft bill which would have rendered between 5,000 and 10,000 boat dwellers homeless. There have been five consultations since 1995, aimed primarily at forcing law-abiding boaters without moorings off the canal or into permanent moorings which we don't want. Recent developments are of great concern to us.
First, B.W. is threatening to terminate the licences of boaters by attempting to enforce the 'Mooring Guidance for Continuous Cruisers' (which clearly states that it does not have the force of law) on the grounds that failure to make a “progressive journey” around the canal system amounts to a breach of the law – though boaters are not required to cruise any minimum distance. Termination of your licence can lead to B.W. seizing and destroying your boat, and so losing your home. The National Association of Boat Owners (N.A.B.O.) has obtained a Legal Opinion from senior barristers stating that B.W. does not have the power to set any particular cruising pattern or minimum distance.
Second, BW is going ahead with a local mooring strategy for the western end of the Kennet and Avon, restricting the availability of 14-day mooring spaces and making it difficult for travelling boaties to maintain access to their children's school, to their work or to health services.
The proposed mooring restrictions, which directly affect boaters, will be decided by a steering group in which boating representatives will be outnumbered by others such as local residents, hire boat companies, local authorities and parish councils, whose lives will not be directly affected by the mooring restrictions or who have little to do with boating. Despite B.W.'s earlier promises, individual boaters will not be allowed to join the steering group. B.W. also unlawfully intends the local mooring strategy to decide how far a boat without a mooring must travel in order to comply with the Mooring Guidance.
Despite the two-to-one opposition from the public consultation, B.W. is going ahead with the plan anyway. We have also discovered that B.W. plans to introduce a new type of mooring permit, similar to its 2008 roving mooring proposal. This will cost more than the average leisure mooring, will include a winter mooring and will “allow” the boater to remain in a specific geographic area for a certain time. However, apart from the winter mooring, boats without moorings are already entitled to do what this new mooring permit would allow; yet another attempt to pressurise boaters into paying for permanent moorings which we do not need or want.
B.W. already has powers to regulate mooring, but rather than consistently enforcing the 14-day rule, they prefer instead to threaten boaters who do obey the 14-day rule. B.W. claims there is a problem in the lack of mooring space, but many boaters think that B.W.'s failure to carry out its duty to maintain the canal is the problem. If the canal was properly dredged and maintained, this would free up a huge amount of extra mooring space, currently unusable as boats cannot get close enough to tie up.
According to N.A.B.O.'s 2009 survey, 84% of boaters reported difficulty finding a place to moor due to inadequate dredging. One of the reasons that certain places are popular is that B.W. has actually done its job and dredged the canal properly.
Another reason for the perceived pressure on mooring space is the rapid increase in hire boat numbers between Devizes and Bath, from 36 in 2003 to 78 in 2009, with up to 14 more added in 2010. Hirers usually wish to moor on purpose-built visitor moorings at popular places, and are not expert enough at boat-handling to moor elsewhere. It is hardly surprising, given the rapid increase in hire boats, that they cannot always stop at the visitor mooring of their choice.
A common misconception about boaters is that we do not pay Council Tax and are getting services for free. But British Waterways pays the Government a composite levy in respect of Council Tax and Business Rates, which contributes to Government payments to local authorities through the Rate Support Grant. Anyone who pays a licence fee contributes to this. B.W. also pays for the sewage disposal, rubbish disposal and water which it provides to boat licence holders. Paying Council Tax is not a legal pre-requisite for using local authority services, and a recent estimate showed that travelling boaters either do not need, or cannot use, over 80% of local authority services.
Alongside this attitude is the opinion that boaters without moorings are getting something for nothing. That is plain ridiculous! If you have a mooring, you are getting benefits that boat owners without moorings do not get, such as the right to leave your boat in the same spot all year round.
Rather than all these disputes, we would much rather see the K&A acting as a model for a good relationship between settled communities, boaters with moorings and travelling boat dwellers, which could be replicated in other parts of the canal network.
For further info, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
And now, to the disclaimer: as anyone is free to contribute, the opinions expressed in each article are not necessarily reflective of all contributors. Naturally, any right-wing or corporate bullshit will be binned and spat upon. Needless to say, the opinions of the author of this disclaimer do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other contributor.