Hear Hear – Middle Level Bill to Proceed

The Middle Level Bill, which ran out of time in the last Parliament, has been given the go ahead to proceed through its parliamentary process, with the House of Commons voting in favour following a debate on 17th October.  Despite suggestions from some MPs during the debate that it should be postponed, the Bill will proceed to the House of Lords before going to an Opposed Bill Committee for consideration of the remaining objections.

The Middle Level Commissioners (MLC) are the navigation authority for the Middle Level Navigations, which comprises 100 miles of navigable waterways in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. The Middle Level Bill would update the legal framework which currently governs their navigation function.

IWA welcomes the revival of this Bill, which would bring MLC into line with other larger navigation authorities by enabling better waterway management powers and increased provision of facilities in connection with their navigation function.  Among other powers it would enable the Commissioners to levy charges in respect of vessels using the Middle Level waterways, including the ability to charge where vessels overstay time limits in force at a mooring place.  It would enable the removal of sunken, stranded and abandoned vessels and it would enable requirement of vessels using the Commissioners’ waterways to have insurance and a boat safety certificate, which is currently not the case.

The Middle Level is an important part of the East Anglian waterways, and IWA’s view is that it needs these powers in order to continue to run its navigations effectively.

Subject to any charges imposed being reasonable, IWA believes that the Bill’s implementation would be beneficial for all who use these waterways.

MLC would be able to spend money on facilities and moorings for boaters, which they are currently unable to do; the value of the waterways to the local economy through tourism would increase; there would be increased provision of leisure opportunities for the local population; and safer conditions for the boats currently on the system, which are currently not subject to boat safety examinations or the requirement to have any insurance.

Express your support.  Write to your MP now.

As an Opposed Bill, there is the potential for it to be defeated, and IWA members and supporters are therefore encouraged to write to their MP to express their support for the Bill, particularly if living in the constituencies which include the Middle Level Navigations.

These constituencies are:  North West Cambridgeshire (Shailesh Vara MP), North East Cambridgeshire (Stephen Barclay MP) and South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss MP).

Photo: This visitor mooring at Three Holes on the Middle Level Navigations was paid for by IWA Peterborough Branch, and is one of a minimal number of visitor moorings on the 100 miles managed by the Middle Level Commissioners.  The Middle Level Bill would enable MLC to spend money on providing more moorings and facilities, which it is currently unable to do. Photographer: Alison Smedley

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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