London's waterways have seen a 36% rise in boat numbers over the past five years to 2,964 boats in March 2014 (from 2,175 boats in 2007). In the past year alone, overall numbers have risen by 14%, while the number of continuous cruisers in East London has increased by 85%. The new initiatives, which include the recently-announced changes to central London visitor moorings, aim to encourage greater movement of boats to make mooring fairer for everyone.
This month we will start to text message London's boaters when they've reached the maximum stay time on a 14-day towpath mooring, as a gentle reminder that it's time to move on. These reminders are already sent to boaters on parts of the Kennet & Avon Canal. We'll also carry on speaking face-to-face with overstaying boaters and leaving notices on boats.
We have recently recruited an enforcement supervisor and an additional enforcement officer for London. Another enforcement officer vacancy is also being advertised to bring the London enforcement team back up to full strength. Enforcement is vital, especially in busy locations that are popular with boaters who may be having trouble getting to grips with the movement rules. The enforcement team enforces the rules so everyone is treated fairly, and also offers advice and guidance to boaters who run into difficulties.
Our programme of new casual moorings is moving forward with new mooring rings on the way at Camden (Camley Street) and Haggerston (Acton's Lock). The sites require the completion of a technical assessment and appropriate timetabling of the work and it is hoped the installation will start soon. Moorings are also being planned along the Lee Navigation next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Boaters' views on other suitable locations are welcome.
We're aiming to establish additional facilities for boaters by seeking provision in new canalside development, as well as any new mooring sites. In particular, new facilities are planned in Haggerston and on the Lee Navigation by the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
In August a number of changes will be made to the visitor moorings in Paddington Basin. The plan includes installing a new water point, updating signage and new bookable moorings at Rembrandt Gardens.
These actions build on feedback from the Better Relationships Group, which was set up with boating groups to help improve communications and engage boaters, in particular, in developing local policy.
Sorwar Ahmed, London boater liaison manager at the Canal & River Trust, said: “We're doing all we can to manage the canals and rivers for the benefit of all – both those who make London's waterways their home, and those who want to visit the capital. I hope these measures help to ease the pressure of boating in the capital, and give everyone a fair chance to moor up safely.”