The Middle Level Act 2018 and Proposed Byelaws

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  • I just thought a few words to bring you up to date with this fight, which goes on in some form.


    The Middle Level Commissioners may have got their 2018 Middle Level Act through Parliament (at massive expense), but they are not complying with the agreements and undertakings that were included as a result of our dissent. The proposed Byelaws are with DEFRA awaiting approval and are being used to try to reintroduce some of the powers the Commissioners lost when the Bill became the 2018 Act, including the right to enter and seize our homes. They misled Parliament over the level of fees for the annual licences they will be charging and have no plan in place for what they will be doing to earn that new tax. The right of liveaboard boaters to the same degree of privacy as home-owners has quietly been put to one side and we have not been consulted as to who will represent our interests among the Commissioners. Some of the proposals in the byelaws show what little understanding they have for the reality of boat life, specially regarding those of us who live alone.


    I'm afraid I have very little trust in them and they, in turn, seem to have very little accountability. My concerns are being "triaged through" DEFRA and I have detailed letters of concern lodged with the Speaker of the Lords and the ex-Lord Chief Justice who chaired the last Committee I spoke at. It was he who quoted, "No taxation without representation."


    Of course, as predicted, people on the water here are finally beginning to get a bit irritated now that the bills are certain to include an annual licence fee. Where were they when they could have made some difference as the Bill was going through? They all left it to a postie, a care worker, a self-employed artist, a musician, a bar worker and a van driver to face up to a QC, three solicitors, past and present chief executives, an accountant and a number of "expert witnesses". We did have a seasoned waterways campaigner on our side too, but the big boys played dirty by getting him excluded from speaking at the last committee. They had "standing orders" and legal knowledge at their fingertips and excluded him on a technicality, a very mean-spirited action indeed.


    Sadly, one of our little band of dissenters died the day before yesterday.

  • I empathise Derek, I am in a similar situation. I am on a quest against local authorities and wider authorities to stop the proposed amendments to the 1994 Act... but where is everyone? The best part is the changes are unlikely to affect me, where are all the people who will be affected? Beaten into submission?


    I wish you strength for your quest. I am with you in spirit x

  • Seems very unfair, sounds like a return to the feudal system & peasants v gentry is still alive & kicking....🙁 Good luck with your fight my friend....

    Thanks, Bigbear67 . "feudal" is exactly the word I would use too. It is extraordinary how few people are willing to stand up against these people. The qualification to be a Middle Level Commissioner is to own more than 250 acres of land in this area. If that isn't feudal ...!


    They also feel their situation is unfair. They pay a lot of money into their organisation, The Middle Level Commissioners, to keep their land free from flooding, but in times of low rainfall they pay again for a licence to pump the water that drains from their farms back out of the waterways to irrigate their crops. For years they have watched boaters use the waterways with the same freedom that was was granted when the fens were drained in the seventeenth century. The difference is that the landowners make a lot of money from having the richest soil in the country. Non-commercial boat owners lost a way of life and most of us live on our boats because we cannot afford bricks and mortar.


    It's an interesting one, for sure.

  • I empathise Derek, I am in a similar situation. I am on a quest against local authorities and wider authorities to stop the proposed amendments to the 1994 Act... but where is everyone? The best part is the changes are unlikely to affect me, where are all the people who will be affected? Beaten into submission?


    I wish you strength for your quest. I am with you in spirit x

    Thank you MillieMercedes . It has been interesting being so close to seeing how laws are made, but the whole process is like wading through quicksand. I would rather not have had to do this, but like they say ... someone has to.


    The process gives the impression of being democratic, but the odds are so heavily stacked in favour of the ones with money, power and the time to keep coming back as part of their job.


    Best wishes to you for strength and courage in your quest too. x