River Lea boaters oppose plans for 'water safety' zones with flotilla of protest
Holly Chant and Sarah Collins
- Credit: Sarah Collins
Boaters from Walthamstow Marshes to Hackney Wick, joined together in a flotilla of protest, opposing plans for 'water safety' zones along the River Lea.
The Canal and River trust says the zones are needed to ensure the waterway is safe following its own reports of 240 incidents on the river from 2014-2019.
But a representative from the National Bargee Traveller Association disputes the statistics and is concerned the proposals will remove mooring space and restrict boaters.
Kerry Gilfillan, from the National Bargee Traveller Association, said: "In the ['water safety' zone] areas fewer boats will be able to moor.
"Boats will be more bunched up , they will be crowded and when boats are bunched up then people who are less physically able, older boaters or boaters of disabilities, will have more difficulties being able to boat and being able to pursue this life.
"I don’t trust the Canal River Trust's figures. We have asked for granular data so we can understand exactly where they are getting those figures from and they have not provided us with the granular data."
A spokesperson for the Trust told the Gazette how the figures come from incidents reported.
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He added: "Of course this means they may well be under reported, as not everyone will think to tell the trust if they’ve been in an accident.
"We’ve had some reports of nasty collisions between boats and rowers [and] our absolute priority is to ensure safety on the water. It would be negligent not to act when we know there’s an issue."
The trust is trialling two water safety zones, one at Broxbourne and a second on the Lower Lea between Old Ford Lock 19 and Tottenham Lock 17.
It is also doing further consultation work with an independent facilitator in order to "find a solution" that will work for all the river's stakeholders.
To learn more visit: canalrivertrust.org.uk