[Diggers350] River Lea Houseboaters being 'socially cleansed' from Olympics area

Lilia Patterson liliapatterson at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 14 20:47:10 GMT 2011

Raising mooring prices from £600 to £7000 is extortion. 

quote from solicitor's firm website below:

  "Extortion is  similar to blackmail. It involves obtaining money, 
property or services from  another through threats of physical harm: 
“pay up or else” is an example.  Protection rackets are a form of 
extortion. Blackmail and  extortion can range from the low level example given
 above, to cases involving  political figures involved in bribery and 
organised crime. All cases are dealt  with only in the Crown Court. The 
maximum sentence is 14 years".http://www.marymonson.co.uk/blackmail.php

Threatening people with forcible eviction is also against international laws and human rights. 
These are the relevant international laws explained from the UN High Commission for Human Rights: 

To: diggers350 at yahoogroups.com
From: mark at tlio.org.uk
Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2011 10:19:50 +0000
Subject: [Diggers350] River Lea Houseboaters being 'socially cleansed' from Olympics area



      Houseboaters being 'socially cleansed' from Olympics area

River Lea residents fear licence could rise from £600 to £7,000, but

British Waterways says increase only option

by Ian Griffiths

The Guardian, 

Date: Wednesday 9 March 2011



Houseboat residents near the Olympic development site in east London are

accusing British Waterways of an attempt at "social cleansing". They say

proposed changes to rules for living on the canals before the 2012 Games

could force hundreds of people from their water-based homes.

British Waterways, which manages 2,200 miles of canals and rivers, has put

forward changes to the mooring rules on the river Lea, in east London, that

could increase the cost of living on the waterway from about £600 to £7,000

a year. Residents see the move as a deliberate attempt to drive them away.

A draft note from British Waterways on 6 December 2010, seen by the

Guardian, says: "The urgency … relates to the objective of reducing

unauthorised mooring on the Lea navigation and adjacent waterways in time

for the Olympics."

The canal boat residents fear they will be forced from the river if the

proposals go ahead as drafted. Alice Wellbeloved, a freelance fashion

designer, who has lived on the Lea for almost five years with her partner

and baby, said the plan meant it was no longer feasible to live the family

life they had built together. "For us it would be disastrous," she said.

"We have a 10-month-old baby, and these proposals mean we could not work or

get the childcare we need. We cannot afford to buy a new house. We feel we

are being uprooted from our community."

British Waterways says between 160 and 200 boats in the area are used as

permanent residences. These boats can exploit a lack of clarity in the

waterways legislation to use a "continuous cruising" licence, costing about

£600 a year, which lets owners move just short distances every fortnight.

Under the new proposals, people using a continuous cruising licence would

not be allowed to spend more than 61 days in a year in each of six

designated neighbourhoods across 40 miles of canal network, and they would

be forced to move to a different neighbourhood every 14 days.

British Waterways says the changes are in line with a national policy on

moorings. But residents on the Lea say they are being singled out to allow

a "cleaning up" of the waterways before the Olympics next year. For British

Waterways the Lea is a high priority because of "high demand for visitor

moorings during the 2012 Olympics".

Mike Well, a photographer and Lea canal-boat resident for four years,

said: "My boat is about a mile from the Olympic park and it is almost

inconceivable that the authorities would allow anything unsightly or tatty

during the games. This is social cleansing."

Wellbeloved said: "People say we're using the river on the cheap. We are

desperate for a permanent mooring. But there are none to be had around here

– they're so scarce that the last permanent mooring near here was auctioned

for £9,000 a year in rent."

Nick Brown, legal officer of the National Bargee Travellers Association,

which represents the interest of boat dwellers, said: ""These are extremely

draconian proposals. BW is riding roughshod over the rights of a vulnerable

minority group. The objective appears to be to stop new entrants on to the

river and drive away existing canalside residents."

Sally Ash, head of boating at BW, denied the proposals were an assault on

the "live aboard" boaters. "We want to encourage councils to support more

residential moorings.

"But we have to control the number of boats, which have increased by 40%

over the last four years on the Lea. The only way we can do this is through

price, and some people will have to suffer."

But she accepted that with feelings running high among river Lea

residents, British Waterways would have to take account of the plight of

those who feared losing their homes. It would consider "transitional

arrangements" for existing residents and explore ways to mitigate hardship,

she said.

"We will have to do something we prefer not to, and unwillingly accept

that we must consider a person's housing position. We are a navigation, not

a housing body – but we have to send the message that in future, living on

the river will not be such a cheap lifestyle option."



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