‘I’m planning revenge after authorities seized my £11k narrowboat’ | UK | News

January 3, 2024
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The March Hare – made by Bantock in 1976 – was owned by George Ward, 63, until its removal from the Kennet & Avon Canal in May last year.

The March Hare was removed just under a month after the Canal & River Trust removed George’s historic narrowboat The Celtic on April 19.

Mr Ward was evicted from the canal towpath near Bradford on Avon in August after a three-year battle with the Trust.

The Trust claimed he had no licences for the two boats, which Mr Ward denies, saying the Trust would not allow him to relicense them.

Both boats are now languishing in a Commercial Boat Services Ltd storage yard near Chester.

The Trust has since demanded Mr Ward pay fees totalling £48,000 for their removal and the delivery charge for the return of his personal possessions.

The March Hare is now being offered for sale by Commercial Boat Services and is described as a 15-metre narrowboat with a diesel engine with a value of £11,500.

Mr Ward said: “The Canal & River Trust Ltd is responsible for demanding the prohibitive sum of £48,000 to effectively prevent my recovery of the goods.

“Furthermore, the boat appears now to be the property of CBS Ltd. It is an absolute injustice.

“I can scrape together enough savings to pay £11,500 for The Celtic but then I am stuck with the dilemma of not having enough to take it anywhere.”

The 70-foot-long The Celtic was refloated after being swamped and sunk by the wash from a stag party hire boat in September 2018, leaving Mr Ward homeless.

Supporters later rallied around and raised more than £8,000 from a crowdfunding appeal to enable Mr Ward to repair the boat.

The Celtic was removed from the canal in April.

He lived in a gazebo tent for around two months after the March Hare was removed before finally being evicted from the towpath for trespass.

The CBS advertisement says: “Here we have a Bantock narrow-boat with a historic riveted iron hull with steel superstructure, it has an engine but this doesn’t look serviceable.

“The condition of the hull looks reasonable but I would describe this boat as a project requiring remedial work to the hull cabin and machinery.

“Anybody interested would be advised to come and have a look, it is available to view at our Chester yard where it is ashore.”

Mr Ward claims the Trust’s eviction of the March Hare in May 2023 was unlawful and that they did not take account of his disabilities in refusing to grant him licences.

A Canal & River Trust spokesperson said at the time: “Unfortunately, following a long period of time liaising with the owner of two longstanding unlicenced boats on the Kennet & Avon Canal, the Trust removed the second of the unlicenced boats.

“Taking action to remove a boat from the water is upsetting and is always a last resort. It only happens when a boat owner refuses to follow the rules over a long period of time, during which we have repeatedly tried to resolve the issues and difficulties with them.

“We make sure that in all cases any decision to remove a boat that is lived on has first been independently scrutinised by a Judge. We act within the law at all times, with the Judge considering each and every case and confirming that we are acting in accordance with our powers under s.8 of the British Waterways Act 1983.”



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