Canal boaters in eviction threat

A GOVERNMENT Quango slated for closure is threatening to breakup a close-knit community of boaters.

A GOVERNMENT Quango slated for closure is threatening to breakup a close-knit community of boaters.

Mitchell Smith has legally moored his barge on the Grand Union Canal near Scrubs Lane, Park Royal, for nine years, but is now threatened with eviction along with ten other boats.

British Waterways (BW) claims the land was never meant to be used as a permanent mooring site despite allowing them to stay for nine years.

It also claims permission to access the land was only granted by adjacent landowners Car Giant for one year and was not renewed.

Stephen Mitchell, who has lived there since 2001, said: “They are just trying to destroy the community and get rid all of the boats that are our homes. For some reason they don’t want us here anymore.”

However Mr Mitchell said when they checked the land registry, BW was not registered as the owner, essentially making it abandoned land, and plans to claim adverse possession.

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After 12 years of living there and in the absence of any claim, Mr Mitchell will become the legal owner of the land in 2013.

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m angry. In 2006 BW said they own the land, but I said I have paperwork going back to 2001 says you don’t. Show me the paperwork that you own the land and that’s it, you can give us the permits and we can be here legally. They have never shown us that paperwork and the land registry as of last week says that there’s been no change of property. Nobody owns it. I am the only name that is on it.”

BW says many of the boat owners do not have the correct mooring permits and therefore have no legal right to be there.

However the boat owners without mooring licenses say they applied for them but never received a response either declining or accepting their applications.

BW suggests they take continuous cruising permits. With continuous cruising you can only stop for 14 days, must travel a certain amount of miles a day and no return within a certain amount of time.

Mr Mitchell said: “If we had continuous travelling licenses it would be disastrous. One girl is trying to hold down two jobs which she would lose if she cant get to work, another is getting chemotherapy, how would he keep going to hospital if he has to keep moving every 14 days, another is waiting to have an operation All of a sudden you have to get out of your house, have no where else to go and you don’t get your post, everything falls apart.”

A spokeswoman said: “British Waterways has sent letters to the owners of the boats that are moored at the site asking them to move on. A number of the boats do not have the correct licenses or mooring permits and we have included information to help the owners obtain valid licenses and to secure lawful moorings.”

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