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.