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Post contributed via Email from Horatio Hornyblower

Canal River Trust has a ‘Duty Of Care’ to the boating community.

Unfortunately, it seems to be pursuing some policies and practices which appear to be specifically targeted at the boat dwelling Itinerant Traveller community known as ‘Continuous Cruisers’ as well as affecting the wider boating fraternity. Policies which could well be seen as contravening both the guidelines laid down and possibly the law.

According to the information on the NEVO website,

“Under common law (sometimes called case law), charities also have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm to anyone who has a ‘relationship of proximity’ with them.”

and the government’s own guidance for charity trustees clearly states the following specific instances from the duties and responsibilities laid down by the Charities Commission.

When listing particular “Types of Risks and Harm” the site specifically mentions “bullying and harassment” and “commercial exploitation”.

I suggest that Canal River Trust’s recent announcements regarding their intention to increase licence fees at a rate above the rate of inflation for the next five years and to specifically target ‘continuous cruisers’ with an extra surcharge on top of these increases not only qualifies as “commercial exploitation” but will also place this minority group, most of whom are existing on low incomes and pensions, at serious risk of harm and subject them to levels of hardship, stress and distress which could well be viewed as “bullying and harassment”.

Are Canal River Trust’s executives and trustees unaware of the fact that we are in the middle of a “cost of living crisis” ?

Perhaps if you are blissfully living in cloud cuckoo-la-la-land with rainbows and unicorns on a salary of £250,000 per annum a cost of living crisis is of little interest to you, perhaps it has little effect on you or your bank balance !


I can assure you that if your only income is a state pension (or in some cases less than that) and you’ve already seen three years of increases not only in licence fees but in food, fuel and all the other essentials of daily life, it is making a huge difference !

“Our licences went up 8% in 2022, 9% in 2023, and they now plan to put them up another 14% on that already vastly inflated figure in 2024 – a staggering increase of one third (34% compounded increase) in just three years.” (Source NBTA)

And Canal River Trust have now announced that they intend to inflict above inflation increases on us for the next five years !

In my book that counts as “commercial exploitation” from a so called ‘charity’ which shouts long and loud about “Wellbeing” and the benefits it claims to bring to society as it seemingly exploits a minority group  !

The government website states that:-

“Protecting people and safeguarding responsibilities should be a governance priority for all charities. It is a fundamental part of operating as a charity for the public benefit.”

“As part of fulfilling your trustee duties, whether working online or in person, you must take reasonable steps to protect from harm people who come into contact with your charity.”

It further states that:-

“Trustees must be assured that all policies, procedures and practice are checked and challenged to ensure they’re fit for purpose. You must make sure your charity:

  • works within all relevant statutory guidance
  • keeps accurate records
  • stays aware of current affairs, trends and themes and how these can influence your policies and practices
  • complies with its policies and procedures, as well as with good practice and legislation
  • updates policies and procedures to reflect changes to statutory requirements, good practice and current issues”

See that last bit ?current issues”, you are “required” to update your policies to take into account “current issues” which includes our very current “cost of living crisis” (the prime minister’s words and definition, not ours).

We don’t feel protected, we feel exploited, we don’t feel safe, we feel harassed and hounded and if you could actually measure our “Wellbeing” you’d realise the tank is very nearly empty !


At this point I would like to make a suggestion.

What we need is an Escrow account !

The boating community should be encouraged to cease all monthly licence payments and monies should instead be placed into an Escrow account, a standardised letter could be provided to allow those who pay annually to inform Canal River Trust that they will be making future payments to this account and by doing so licence fees could be withheld until such time as Canal River Trust agree to cease this “commercial exploitation” which is extremely detrimental to our “Wellbeing” and is arguably in direct contravention of rules and laws concerning their “Duty of Care”.

Fly The Flag !

3 thoughts on “Duty of Care”

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