A charity that looks after England's waterways has been accused of "unfairly" prioritising some river users over others.

The National Bargees Travellers Association (NBTA) is in dispute with the Canal and River Trust (CRT), which it says is favouring rowers over people living in boats.

At 3pm on February 1, Frankie Perry received a text from the trust telling her that the mooring rings and bollards her boat was tied to opposite Matchmakers Wharf in Homerton on the River Lea would be removed at 9am the next morning.

The bewildered boat owner said that there was no indication she should not moor up, and it was “very disappointing” the trust had asked her to move.

Frankie said: “It didn’t occur to me that there were any mooring restrictions in place – there were no signs, it’s not by a bridge or bend, the navigation is wide, and there were mooring rings to tie up to.

“I find it very disappointing that the trust is using its resources — to which our licence fees contribute — to actively remove mooring rings when there is so much infrastructure within the London network in need of repair or improvement.”

Hackney Gazette: Moorings sites near Marshgate Bridge pictured before and after bollard removalMoorings sites near Marshgate Bridge pictured before and after bollard removal (Image: NBTA)

The CRT said Frankie’s mooring at Marshgate Bridge was already a ‘no mooring zone’ and that mooring rings were only fitted in 2012 for the Olympics waterbus service.

The incident comes as the National Bargees Travellers Association (NBTA) is locked in dispute with the waterways charity over its ‘Water Safety Zone’ in the Lower Lee.

Stretching from Old Ford Lock 19 in Hackney Wick and Tottenham Lock 17, this imposes extra safety restrictions on the waterway, including some ‘no mooring zones’.

The NBTA has criticised this zone, claiming that the CRT has “emphasised the rights of some river users over others”, including nearby Lea Rowing Club.

The bargee travellers group said: “The waterways have been shared for some time and it’s unreasonable that this should change now.”

But a spokesperson for CRT said that it is not true that the restriction “unfairly targets one group”, and that, in the case of the Marshgate site, mooring rings were removed to “allow safer navigation under the bridge”.

They added: “Boats and boaters are a vital part of the fabric of London’s canals.

“As boat numbers continue to rise, we ask all users of London’s waterways to share this limited amenity for the benefit of all.

“By definition that ‘share the space’ message applies to everyone – boaters, rowers and the 2.1 million Londoners who live within 1km of one of the waterways our charity cares for.

“It is simply untrue to claim that the message - which is used across our network, on and off the water - unfairly targets one group.

 “The Marshgate site is by a bridge where the navigation is narrow. Mooring rings installed there for the 2012 Olympics waterbus service have been removed to allow safer navigation under the bridge after new permanent moorings were established on the offside of the navigation.

“No experienced boater would or would expect to be able to moor in a location which puts them or others in danger.”

Lea Rowing Club has been approached for comment.