Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text WILTS TIMES to 80360 or email us
Disabled Wiltshire man faces losing narrowboat home
A disabled boat owner who lives on the Kennet and Avon Canal could face losing his home because of a £76,000 claim after legal action against him failed.
George Ward, 52, travels between Devizes and the Dundas Aqueduct, Limpley Stoke, and has been involved in a legal dispute with the Canal and River Trust since 2010 after he was unable to get a boat safety certificate in time to re-licence his motor boat.
The CRT, who took over from British Waterways, served a Section 8 of the British Waterways Act 1983, which entitles CRT to remove an unlicensed boat from the waterway.
Bristol County Court granted the Section 8 but it was later cancelled because he sold the boat, using the proceeds to repair a second motor boat.
He tried to licence two boats not subject to legal action but his cheques were returned.
Mr Ward said: “They failed with the Section 8, they failed to get an injunction, and so they are trying another way to make me homeless.
“It is harassment. They won’t succeed, except over my dead body.”
Mr Ward has not worked since 1996 after a battery blew up in his face while he was repairing a lorry, causing loss of vision in his right eye.
He now lives on incapacity benefit and disability living allowance of £102 per week. His only asset is his home, the two boats he bought for £3,830.
A CRT spokesman said: “We have encouraged him to abide by the terms and conditions of a licence. In the end we had to escalate proceedings and ask a judge to make an independent judgment about the removal of his boat from our waterways.
“This isn’t a decision that we take lightly and only comes after other avenues have been exhausted.”
The spokesman said the judge found that enforcement actions were proportionate.
He added: “We are seeking judgment to recover the extensive costs that George Ward has prevented from being spent on looking after the waterways.
“We haven’t issued any instruction to bankrupt Mr Ward. However, until he pays the debt, we may understandably not be willing to grant him a licence to use our canals and rivers in the future.”
Comments are closed on this article.