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News article created on 30 June 2017

London Boating Bulletin: June 2017

With the summer cruising and festival season well under way, we bring you the latest news about exciting summer activities and new moorings coming to a waterway near you! Amongst the festivals to look forward to are Ware this month, and the East London Festival in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in August. There are new opportunities to volunteer with us, and information about our important safety initiatives.

Jena at Limehouse Basin

New towpath moorings out west

After listening to boaters’ feedback last year about the need for more towpath moorings, we are investing in a series of mooring improvements in west London. The Paddington Arm was one area that boaters suggested could do with better facilities, including more moorings, water points and sanitation stations.

Last year saw two new water points installed in Southall (Uxbridge Road visitor mooring) and the Slough Arm, boaters’ bins at the Blackhorse Pub visitor mooring in Greenford, and a soon to be commissioned public Elsan and pump-out machine at Alperton (at the Atlip Road off-side mooring).

We're now on site installing over 600m of new mooring rings in West Drayton; Alperton, near the new boater facilities; and at Old Oak, near The Collective's swanky new canal-side building and eateries. This last set will make over 200m of concrete towpath moorable for the first time, while it will improve mooring at Alperton, where the grass verge is, well, almost concrete! We're reviewing other possible locations through the emerging London mooring strategy, so watch out for plans in the autumn.

Help us save water in London

The London waterways are currently experiencing low water levels, which is a product of a prolonged period of dry weather. As a result we’re calling on boaters to help us conserve water wherever possible - your co-operation is hugely appreciated and will make a difference the waterway environment.

It's always good boating practice to follow these six rules of water conservation:

  • TWO IN A LOCK WHERE WIDTH ALLOWS - if there's room please wait for boats to share with you.
  • HELP KEEP IT IN - make sure all gates and paddles are shut.
  • REPORT ANY LEAKS - let us know if you spot a leak.
  • INVITE ONCOMING BOATS THROUGH - don't empty or fill a lock if someone else can make use of the water.
  • FIND ANOTHER FAVOURITE - explore less affected, parts of the waterway network.
  • THINK AHEAD - plan cruises to minimise use of locks.

Our local teams are continuing to check and regulate water levels seven days a week, with the support of our sophisticated electronic system (SCADA). We are also working closely with our partners at the Environment Agency.

Thank you in advance for your help, if you have any queries please get in touch with us at enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk

New licence addresses renting of boats

We’ve now introduced a new letting licence to ensure the safety of the increasing number of people living on rented boats. The Static Letting Licence covers all types of boat rental, including long-term renting, Airbnb-style short breaks, and overnight stays. The boat owner will need to have a permanent mooring and should talk to their local planning authority to see if planning permission is needed. The price will be the same as for the current Self-Drive Holiday Hire licence.

Matthew Symonds, our boating strategy and engagement manager, explains: "Living afloat can be a great lifestyle choice but too often there are frightening accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning to fires and boats sinking. Boat owners may not be aware that they have greater responsibilities to tenants than they would if they were using the boat themselves, and it’s vital that those renting boats are protected by more rigorous standards to ensure they are safe."

The Static Letting Licence has more rigorous requirements to make sure that both the boat is safe and that potential renters are fully briefed before spending a night on board. Boat owners will be required to have: proof of adequate insurance; a Non-Private Boat Safety Scheme Certificate; a detailed handover document including emergency procedures and contact numbers; a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate; and written permission from their mooring provider.

Alongside this we will be introducing a new process for dealing with boat owners who may be breaching the terms of their licence by renting out their boat. If a boat is suspected of being rented out illicitly we will contact the registered licence holder, as well as hand posting letters onto the boat itself to alert tenants. The licence holder will be given 28 days to clarify the situation, cease trading if appropriate, or apply for a Static Letting Licence. After this period their licence will be revoked if they continue to rent out their boat.

Matthew continues: "Sadly we’ve heard reports of people running into trouble and this needs to stop. Any boat being rented out needs a Letting Licence that ensures that all the proper requirements have been met and the tenants will be kept safe. We want to spread the word amongst existing and potential landlords and will be getting in touch with those who we think are renting their boat unofficially, asking them to work with us to do it above board."

Feedback on Limehouse Basin Visitor Moorings

A reminder that yellow buoys now mark the extent of BWML’s proposed pontoons that will change the visitor mooring arrangements in Limehouse Basin. These are part of BWML’s plans to improve the visitor offer to enable a range of different boats to use the moorings. The current length of free 24 hour moorings will be retained, with additional space for those wanting to stay for more than 24 hours while they visit London. We’re testing the impact this might have on navigation, so if you have any views or would like to see the details of the proposed pontoons, please contact us at enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Boat fire safety week update

During Boat Fire Safety Week in early June, our staff joined with firefighters and representatives of the Boat Safety Scheme to take an important message to boaters – no more fire and carbon monoxide (CO) deaths. Taking our widebeam Jena along the Paddington Arm with the Fire Brigade’s own RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat), our mooring rangers Gareth George and Alex Gudmestad gave out 20 smoke alarms, and firefighters undertook 25 fire safety inspections. In the past 20 years there have been 60 deaths amongst boaters from fires and highly toxic carbon monoxide gas, so we are planning another cruise to hit home these important messages about safety in September.

Drop your pace and enjoy life in the slow lane

Share the space 2017 Slow down

With our towpaths fast becoming one of the nation’s favourite places to relax, we are urging people to slow down to ensure they remain the special places millions of people enjoy visiting every year.

In a recent survey commissioned by us as part of our Share the Space, Drop your Pace campaign, nearly a quarter (23%) of people said their biggest bugbears in public places is when cyclists speed past them so we are reminding people to watch their speed. With half of Brits (50%) going out of their way to find a quieter/greener area to escape the hustle and bustle of main roads this will be welcome news to those who like life by, and on, the water.

Throughout the summer we’ll be spraying messages on the towpath in the busiest areas around England and Wales to encourage people to ‘slow down and look around’ and that there’s ‘no need to rush, just relax’. Visitors will also be able to spot a 3D image of a sleeping policeman, Bobby, at certain points along the towpath encouraging people to drop their pace, a light-hearted nod to the physical speed measure often seen on roads. Have you seen Bobby yet? 

Dick Vincent, our national towpath ranger, explains: "Pedestrians take priority on our towpaths so we’re asking people who cycle and run too fast to please slow down and take time to enjoy their towpath visit. If you are trying to beat the clock on an app or in a rush to get to work, the towpaths are not for you so choose another route.’

Due to the heritage and environmental constraints and the need to make sure towpaths are easy for everyone to access, there are limited opportunities for the charity to add physical speed measures to the towpaths and the survey showed that 73 per cent of people agreed that physical speed measures are either a bad idea (50%) or should be used only as a last resort (23%).   

Dick continues: "We hope our new recruit will help us spread the message, and a smile, to slow down and to enjoy your time on our historic slow lanes.  Life is much better by the water…but you might end up in it if you go too fast!  Slow down and enjoy the ride.”

National towpath ranger Dick Vincent and the sleeping policeman will be on tour this summer visiting hot spots across England and Wales where people may need a reminder to travel slowly. If you have any suggestions for locations you’d like to see Booby pop up in, please let us know at enquiries.london@canalrivertrust.org.uk

Quietway towpath improvements (Paddington to West Drayton)

Perhaps you have seen the newly widened towpath between Ladbroke Grove and Old Oak Lane? Works are now complete here, with a small section outside The Collective (formerly Nash House) at Old Oak Lane left to be undertaken later in the year, when we will finally dispense with those noisy path covers.

We are also on site improving the towpath in Alperton, between the North Circular Aqueduct and Manor Farm Road (Piggery Bridge). The main part of the works are due to finish here this week, completing the tarmac layer. The towpath will be reopened for a few weeks, before our contractors return for a one-week visit to complete the section with its surface dressing later in July. This will require some further towpath closures and mooring suspensions in this area while they undertake the works, to provide access to work boats and avoid damaging moored boats – do please bear with us!

Diversion notices will be posted on the towpath and on our website.

We will then be moving on to planning the next sections of towpath improvements from Alperton to Greenford, which are scheduled to be worked on from the Autumn. Again, this will require some towpath closures and mooring suspensions during the works and we will provide more information in due course.

More information on the programme of towpath improvements and project updates can be found on Quietways London. Thank for your patience during the works, while we bring you better towpaths!

Help us tackle towpath litter

Towpaths are for everyone to enjoy, but they are not places to leave rubbish behind. If you’re visiting the towpath we’re asking you to help us by taking your litter away with you… as you would in the countryside.

London’s towpaths are now more popular than ever and we’ve reached a point where our bins now fill up more quickly that we can empty them. Meanwhile some bins along the towpath have been used by people to fly-tip and leave bulk domestic waste. As a charity, we need to find a better way of doing things.

As part of this, we’ve removed 42 litter bins from London towpaths – 32% of the total we provide over the 100 mile London towpath network. We’ve done this in places where bins are close together and we think you could easily take your rubbish to the next bin along the towpath, or even better still, take it away with you when you go.

We’ve not, however, removed any of our boaters’ domestic waste disposal sites. In fact, we’re aiming to improve these further in the coming months. No one wants to see overflowing bins or fly-tipping. It looks unsightly and could attract vermin, so it’s time to ask everyone to work together and play their part.

Come and read our blog on rubbish by the boating team with some facts and figures and what we can all do to help here: A rubbish blog

Rowing Taster sessions at the East London Waterways Festival

This August Bank Holiday, join us for the East London Waterways Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will be a great event, with activities, food and fun for all the family.

As part of the festival, London Youth Rowing will be offering anyone over the age of 11 the chance to try rowing. It's an exciting opportunity to try a new sport and a great way to get active. You will be instructed by our experienced coaches who will ensure you have a fantastic time on the water.

Book your tickets in advance for our hour-long sessions:

•12.00 – Session 1

•13.00 – Session 2

•14.30 – Session 3

•15.30 – Session 4

•16.30 – Session 5

For more information about London Youth Rowing, and to book on to our Summer courses across London, visit www.londonyouthrowing.com

Stand on water at the East London Waterways Festival, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The completed restoration of Carpenters Road Lock will mean the waterways in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are to be fully re-opened for the first time in 40 years. To celebrate the very unique double gated radial lock, and new waterway, we’re hosting the East London Waterways Festival on Monday 28th August from 12 midday, which will play host to a number of events on land and water.  

Activities will include stand up paddle boarding, a boat flotilla, dragon boat racing, canoeing taster sessions, boat trips, guided walks, performances, pedalos, live music and dance, activities for children and all for free!  We’ll also have a great food and drinks offer from local suppliers. From 7.45pm we’ll have an evening screening of ‘How we used to Live’ with an introduction from the writer himself.   

Most events are free, but some are pre-booked with more information here: East London Waterways Festival

This festival is being delivered by us in partnership with London Legacy Development Corporation and with support from Heritage Lottery Funding and Inland Waterway Association.

Narrowboat rose painter wanted

We are seeking a rose painter who can pass on their skills in a workshop for disabled adults in East London on Tuesday 25 July 2017. Workshop participants will then continue to explore rose painting at their weekly Art Club sessions in August, using recycled glass jars rather than enamelled containers. The project takes place as part of the Festival to celebrate the opening of Carpenter's Lock on August Bank Holiday Monday. No experience of working with disabled people is necessary. For more information contact Dr Ju Gosling on ju@together2012.org.uk

Volunteer visitor mooring rangers needed!

At various visitor mooring locations around the London waterway, we’re introducing volunteer visitor mooring rangers to provide a welcoming information service. This is an opportunity to be the welcoming ‘face’ of the Canal & River Trust at visitor moorings, one of our key interaction points with visitors to our waterways.

The role will involve being on hand to talk to customers at the mooring, providing them with useful information about the Trust and our boating services, looking after boater information boards, and helping us understand how long visitors stay so we can inform our mooring strategy.

We’re not looking for canal experts, but a knowledge of or willingness to learn about the Trust’s boating services would be beneficial.

For an informal discussion, please contact Sorwar.ahmed@canalrivertrust.org.uk or apply at Volunteer opportunities

Ware Festival

Ware Boat Festival, on the River Lee in Ware, promises to be another fabulous weekend. This year's theme is "Flower Power"! Arrive on Friday 30 June for the welcome barbecue and quiz night. On Saturday 1 July and Sunday 2 July meet the Trust team and hear more about what we’re up to, at our welcome station and gazebo. Ware boat festival

About this blog

London Boating Bulletin

Sorwar Ahmed is Waterway Boating Manager for the Canal & River Trust in London. He’s engaging communities and developing social enterprises to improve the waterways for everyone! Every month he gives a round-up of news and views, essential reading for boaters and anyone with an interest in London’s canals

See more blogs from London Boating Bulletin