HMCA
The beautiful Hartford Marina is adjacent to the River Great Ouse at Wyton in Cambridgeshire.

It is a leading centre for leisure boating on the extensive local waterways network. 
For more information please go to the official Hartford Marina site here:

HARTFORD MARINA

The marina has a thriving residential community enjoying a peaceful life in the purpose-built static lodges and houseboats.

WELCOME TO OUR COMMUNITY WEBSITE


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IMPORTANT NEWS
The Annual General Meeting of Hartford Marina Community Association will be held in the Clubhouse on Sunday 11th February, starting at 11.0 a.m.





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Battles Won! -  The Hartford Marina Community Association Web Archive:

Environment Agency dragging its feet

 

Monday, 20 June 2016 09:02

THE Hartford Marina Community Association welcomed the news from the Environment Agency that it has accepted the hight court's definition of a 'vessel', but reminds the Agency that its members are now due a full refund of its (EA) unlawful registration fees.

The Agency is now writing to all current or previous holders of a 'houseboat' registration on its waterways to outline the implications of the recent High Court judgment on the definition of a 'vessel', that found against the Agency. (Marina homes are not 'vessels').

'Within the next couple of months'

The members of the Hartford Marina Community Association welcome this, but not the information from the Waterways Manager of the Agency stating that it will be writing to Hartford residents and others due a refund of unlawfully imposed registration fees 'within the next couple of months'.

The Association feels that given the strength of the High Court judgment against the Agency, there can be no excuse whatever to delay these refunds, and 'within a couple of months' is not good enough, and that the Agency is simply dragging its feet, being annoyed after being proved wrong.

Letter to the Agency

The Hartford Marina Community Association has given us permission to publish its letter to the Environment Agency:

Dear Mr Forbes

With response to the letter you will be sending shortly to all those that have previously registered a ‘houseboat' since 2011. It is most certainly a welcome start, but it is also clear that the Environment Agency has now found itself committed to a further time-consuming and extremely costly administrative burden, entirely as a result of your arrogant misinterpretation of the definition of a ‘vessel'. This was not based on some ancient piece of legislation which the Environment Agency had inherited involuntarily, but was ‘law' in the form of the 2010 Order which the Agency had itself devised.

As the representative of the owners of the floating homes at Hartford Marina, I asked you in my initial letter to take a sensible and pragmatic view of the status of these particular structures; you chose not to do so. Your poor decision has not only cost the Environment Agency a very considerable sum in internal and external legal fees, but continues to have negative implications for the Agency's effective use of limited public funds and other resources. I shall fully support any demands made by others for close scrutiny of such an on-going disgraceful waste of scarce resources.

However, the personal stress and anxiety you put on the owners of the floating homes here at Hartford can probably never be properly quantified. Your staff threatened me personally saying that if I did not pay the fee I would be criminalised. Your letter indicates that you will be writing to those owners "within the next couple of months", this is TOTALLY unacceptable.

The High Court judgment could not be clearer that these particular floating homes are not subject to registration requirements. It follows that all demands for payment of a vessel registration fee in respect of those homes was unlawful. It also follows that even though, as you suggest, the Agency may be considering the status of other structures registered as ‘houseboats' elsewhere, there is no reason whatever to delay an immediate refund, with accrued interest, of all registration fees unlawfully demanded and collected from owners of the permanently fixed floating homes at Hartford Marina.

I am sure you must agree that it is not unreasonable for the Environment Agency to arrange for all refunds due in respect of Hartford Marina homes to be sent without further delay and in any event within the next fourteen days. You may also wish, on behalf of the Environment Agency, to issue an appropriate apology to the Hartford residents for the stress caused to them, both in emotional and financial terms. Your response to this letter will determine how we, the Hartford Marina Community Association, proceed to facilitate a fair outcome with nothing less than full justice for our residents.

For now I can rule out nothing including, if necessary, further legal action to compel the Environment Agency to act with due expediency and in a reasonable manner.

Yours sincerely
Sue Rodwell Smith
Secretary

20th April 2016:  The Hunts Post  records our victory - 

You can read the current week's great issue of the Hunts Post on-line HERE


Hartford Marina Victory - BBC Radio Cambridgeshire News

LISTEN TO THE SOUND CLIP HERE


HMCA PRESS RELEASE - 18th April 2016

JUDGES RULE - HARTFORD MARINA HOMES ARE NOT ‘VESSELS’

 On April 15th 2016, almost a year to the day since Peterborough Crown Court quashed the Hartford Two’s convictions under Article 2 Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010, the Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division sitting in London affirmed the correctness of the judgement of the Crown Court.

 In delivering the lead judgment of the Court, Lord Justice Lindblom said that the Crown Court had been “right to find” that the “floating houses” at Hartford were “homes on water” rather than vessels capable of navigation: and in concurring judgments Mr Justice Teare and Mr Justice Holroyd both found themselves “unable to accept” that the homes at Hartford could be vessels. Mr Justice Holroyd added that to his mind, “a vessel …… must be navigable” and that these floating houses are most emphatically not that.

 The Environment Agency does not have a right of appeal against this decision but has to request permission to do so. Given the strength of the judgment, which is likely to feature in the official Law Reports, and the fact it affirms decisions of the higher Courts of respectable antiquity, it is thought unlikely they will obtain such permission.

 Download the full Approved Judgment here:

    http://www.hartfordmarinaca.org/Environment_Agency_v_Gibbs_and_Parker_judgment_15_April_2016.pdf

Background

Residents of waterside homes at a Cambridgeshire marina, many of them pensioners, were determined to fight demands that they pay an unlawful 430 annual river tax imposed by the Environment Agency or face heavy fines and a criminal record.

The caravan/lodge homes are on permanently fixed floating pontoons and connected to main services.  They cannot be fitted with engines and with no means of propulsion are incapable of navigation on the waterways like a boat

By law, a registration fee is due on all vessels using the river to help pay the costs of the locks and weirs essential to navigation and services provided to boaters.  The marina home owners use none of these river facilities and pay local Council Tax.

In a victory for common-sense, a Crown Court Judge over-ruled local Magistrates and quashed the convictions of two residents.  He found that the homes were not vessels and not subject to registration fees, and refused the Environment Agency leave to appeal.

Despite the ruling, officials from the Environment Agency, an unelected quango not directly accountable to the public, instructed Queen’s Counsel to appeal directly to the Administrative Court. The action, at enormous cost to the public purse was a waste of precious navigation funds which should go only towards maintaining the navigable river.

In an unequal and unfair ‘David v Goliath’ battle, the home owners had initially to find thousands of pounds in legal fees.  The peace of their idyllic riverside retirement was shattered by fears of criminal prosecution and what could only be seen as potential theft of their limited retirement funds.

Hartford residents maintain that not only are their static homes not ‘vessels’ subject to registration (which the High Court has now agreed) but that the EA has no jurisdiction over the private waters of the marina. The Environment Agency’s six-year battle to re-classify the private adjacent waters as part of the main river was rejected as unlawful by the Secretary of State in 2010.  River taxes, or registration fees are only due on boats moored on or navigating the river.  Despite the government ruling, the Agency arrogantly prosecuted two berth-holders and many others, fearful of the intense bullying, just paid up. 

Further Information for Editors:

Hartford Marina Community Association was formed in 2008 and successfully challenged threats of eviction by the local authority.  Owners of the floating lodges and static houseboats pay Council Tax.  HMCA has succeeded again in proving that the Environment Agency’s prosecutions for failure to register the homes as boats had no basis in law.

 The Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the Anglian Waterways including the River Great Ouse.  The legislation governing the river is The Anglian Water Authority Act 1977 and The Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.  The prosecutions were brought under the Environment Agency’s own 2010 Order..



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NEWS FROM THE HIGH COURT  -  15th April 2016

Three High Court judges have unanimously agreed to dismiss the Environment Agency's appeal.

The 'Hartford Two' are innocent!

They are NOT required to register their static floating lodge homes as 'vessels' under the EA (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.

It took great courage to stand up to the Environment Agency and we congratulate everyone, including an outstanding legal team, in achieving justice.

Download and read the full High Court Judgment HERE

The question remains: Who, with only a minimum of common sense, could ever have concluded that these homes were vessels?


NEWS FLASH - 14th April 2016


The High Court judgement in our case will be handed down on Friday 15th April.

ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE
COURT 74
Before LORD JUSTICE LINDBLOM
Friday 15 April, 2016
At 2 o'clock
FOR JUDGMENT
HAND DOWN
CO/3344/2015 Environment Agency v Gibbs


News Update - 14th March 2016

While we wait patiently for the High Court's ruling on the Environment Agency's Appeal in the Hartford Marina case, there is  GOOD NEWS  from the Norfolk Broads.

Boaters at Jenners Basin, Thorpe Island on the River Yare had been threatened with eviction in a long-running planning dispute with the Broads Authority.

Save the Island group leader, Gary Barnes reports:

save the island       David Beats Goliath - Broads Authority Defeated at Thorpe Island

 14 Mar 2016 — Last Friday, The Broads Authority attempted to take one step closer to the removal of all liveaboards from Jenner’s Basin at the western end of Thorpe Island. This followed the serving of Interim Injunction Notices on landowner, Roger Wood and his company Cayenne Marine Ltd.

THEY FAILED
Instead, in The High Court of Justice (Queen’s Bench Division), Mr Justice Nicol ordered that we must not moor ADDITIONAL vessels at Jenner’s Basin other than those present as of 10th March 2016. In other words, those already moored at Jenner’s Basin can stay. In addition, we are able to moor an extra two named vessels, the Court to be advised by 15th March (tomorrow).

In relation to the river, the same right to stay applies – those moored as of 10th March 2016 are secure but additional vessels are to be restricted to a maximum of four days stay.

HOWEVER
The Enforcement Notice was not set aside and all planning rights at the western end are now effectively lost.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT NOW
We must and we will submit a fresh planning application in line with the 2014 Planning Inspector’s Report. Our intention is to work with The Broads Authority and the onus is on them to act reasonably. It would not be possible for them to justify further injunctive action if we submit a design that reflects the 2014 Report.

WHAT IS SUCCESS ?
Let’s just consider where we were at the beginning of December 2015. 41 Notices had been served on those residents of Thorpe Island moored at the western end. They were ordered to leave by 18th December 2015 and threatened with criminal prosecution if they did not comply.
Some left – understandably.
But many stayed and took a stand.
We formed the Save the Island Campaign and fought back.

At the beginning we said that our primary objective was to secure the right of those moored at Jenner’s Basin to stay and to live their lives in peace. We still have some work to do – not least the submission of a planning application that is fit for purpose – but, given that is in hand we can now say that the residents really are going nowhere. They are staying right where they are.

Yes, there are compromises to be made – there are requirements in the 2014 Planning Inspector’s Report that we don’t really agree with but will comply with nonetheless. These include the restriction on the number of moorings (previously unlimited) and the removal of the wrecks. But compromise was always going to be important in moving forward to secure a future.

So, it’s a victory on points after a very long fight. But a win is a win at the end of it all.

I can also confirm that the Notices to Quit recently served on residents at the western end by Roger Wood have as of today been withdrawn.

Having spent hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money, The Broads Authority have achieved nothing but defeat. David really has beaten Goliath.

 Read more on the Save the Island Facebook page here


Latest News from Hartford - 8th March 2016


Today, March 8th 2016, the Environment Agency’s appeal against the judgement made in our favour in Peterborough Crown Court on the 12th April 2015 was heard in the Royal Courts of Justice in front of three High Court Judges as above. 

The Environment Agency was represented by a ‘silk’, David Perry QC, and he was accompanied by his barrister, Richard Evans.  The attendance from the EA was Irven Forbes - Anglian Waterways Manager, Megan Huff - Solicitor and Joanne Sears who is the Solicitor representing the EA in the Reading case. After a long day in court and representation from both sides, our Barrister, Mike Magee, put forward an excellent response to Mr Perry’s submission and is quietly confident of a positive outcome. 

The judges deferred their decision and we will hear their findings in due course.

              

          


January 2016 - News Update from Hartford

Appeal Date Set

The Environment Agency's appeal to the High Court against the Crown Court judge's decision in the Hartford Marina case will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, London on 8th March 2016.
The criminal convictions of two Hartford residents were overturned in the Crown Court when the judge ruled that the static lodge homes were not 'vessels' and were not required to register or pay a river tax.
The Environment Agency's arrogance and apparent disregard for both common sense and the law was also demonstrated in the Thames marina case reported below.
But with no regard to the cost of such action to the public purse the Agency has forced us back into court to defend our position yet again.



Broads Boaters Bullied

save the island
The Broads Authority is threatening to evict 41 boaters from their moorings on Thorpe Island in the River Yare, near Norwich.  BA claims that the moorings do not have the required planning consent but the landowner has convincing evidence that the use of the site for moorings is entirely lawful.  Historic photos show that boats have moored here for at least 90 years!

Read more about it on the HMCA blog HERE
.       Or go straight to the Save the Island website.

Hartford Marina Community Association pledges full support to the Thorpe Island boaters in their battle against bullying.
 
We know how it feels!



Latest News from Hartford - November 2015
The Judge has spoken ..........   "REPUGNANT"
"ATTEMPT TO EXTEND LEGISLATION BY THE BACK DOOR"
In summarising her detailed and well-considered judgement, Judge Lachhar had this to say:




Has the Environment Agency acted unlawfully yet again?   A better place .... in gaol?

PRESS RELEASE                                       17th November 2015

 Issued on behalf of Defendants - Boaters at Thames and Kennet / Penton Hook Marinas

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Venue:  Reading Magistrates Court

 Time and Date:  10.00 am.  Friday 20th November 2015

 Has the Environment Agency acted unlawfully?

 On Friday 20th November at Reading Magistrates Court, District Judge Lachhar will hand down her formal written judgement in the case of 22 boaters charged by the Environment Agency with the criminal offence of failing to register their boats.

 This important judgement may have significant implications for many other boaters in similar circumstances who have been forced to pay up to avoid criminal prosecution and may indicate that the EA has acted outside of its powers as a navigation authority.

 Judge Lachhar had already dismissed the case against the defendants at an earlier hearing on 2nd November.  Her formal ruling is expected to explain how the Environment Agency has wrongly interpreted and applied the law governing the River Thames navigation.

 The defendants moor their boats in private marinas adjacent to the River Thames and do not accept the Environment Agency’s claim that these private waters form part of the river for registration purposes. 

 Registration would cost each boater around 1,000 every year.  They do not use the facilities provided by the Agency as the navigation authority and maintain that the EA has no jurisdiction within the private marinas.

 Boaters’ spokesman, Trevor Pons says “We fully accept the need to license our boats if we use the river but we cannot accept the Environment Agency bullying us into paying  1,000 each year unlawfully or branding us criminals”.

 Ends:

 Background

Thames and Kennet Marina  at Reading and Penton Hook Marina at Chertsey are enclosed private waters adjacent to the River Thames.  The marinas were formed from ex-gravel pits on private land and are not part of the natural River Thames.  The defendants are owners of boats moored within the marinas but they do not navigate the River Thames.

 In 2004 the Environment Agency sought an Order to apply registration and regulation to vessels kept in adjacent waters as well as the waterways under its control.  It went on to define the adjacent waters as including marinas. The provision was rejected by the Secretary of State as ‘ultra vires’ (outside of the powers under the enabling Act of Parliament).  In 2010 the Order was granted with no changes to the existing definition of the River Thames and with no extension of powers to the adjacent waters.

 In 2015, the Environment Agency commenced criminal prosecutions against the 22 defendants claiming that the pre-existing legislation (the Thames Conservancy Act 1932) gave it the necessary powers to impose registration within the private marinas.  The EA was supported by Counsel’s opinion but the defendants were advised to the contrary.  Criminal conviction for non-registration can impose a fine of 2,000.

 The boaters believe that not only has the EA acted unlawfully but some of its other activity towards them, including threats, unwarranted demands and access to their craft gained under false pretences is entirely reprehensible.

 Following the earlier hearing on 2nd November, the Environment Agency issued the following statement:

As you are aware, when the Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010 came into effect in April 2011, any boats kept on the non-tidal River Thames needed to be registered, not just those that were ‘used’ as required by previous legislation.
The new legislation (the ‘IWO’) uses the definition of the non-tidal River Thames in the Thames Conservancy Act 1932 to set the limits of where its requirements can be applied. Our interpretation of this definition is that it includes marinas that are not within the main river channel but are connected to it – for example, former gravel pits connected by a navigable channel through which boats can enter and leave. In our opinion therefore, any boats kept on the water in these marinas should, under the new legislation, be registered. We have also had Queen’s Counsel opinion that supports our interpretation.
In September last year we carried out boat registration checks in two marinas and initiated enforcement proceedings against the owners of unregistered boats being kept on the water within them. The owners of 23 of these boats do not agree that marinas connected to the Thames should be considered part of it, and chose to collectively challenge our interpretation by pleading not guilty to the prosecution cases we eventually brought against them, and engaging a barrister to represent them in court.
A District Judge heard the arguments from both sides on this point of law at Reading Magistrates Court earlier, Monday 2 November. Disappointingly, the judge found in favour of the boat owners, not us.
Clearly, the judge’s decision was not the one we were hoping for. We have not yet received the judge’s full reasoned ruling. When we do we will then have 21 days to seek an appeal to the High Court for a binding decision. We are considering this. Until we have decided whether or not to seek an appeal, we do not intend to make any further comment on this issue.
Regards,
Andrew Graham
Waterway Manager
West Thames
Red Kite House, Wallingford

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Further Information for Editors:

The Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the non-tidal River Thames from Lechlade to Richmond.  The legislation governing the river is The Thames Conservancy Act 1932 and The Environment Agency (Inland Waterways) Order 2010.

 Contacts: 

Spokesman for the Defendants:  Trevor Pons - Office: +44 (0) 20 3545 8000

   Mobile: +44 (0) 7950 127 640

Environment Agency:  Waterway Manager, Andrew Graham -  03702 422 549




August 2015

MARINA HOME OWNERS FIGHT UNLAWFUL ENVIRONMENT AGENCY TAX

Residents of waterside homes at a Cambridgeshire marina, many of them pensioners, are determined to fight demands that they pay an unlawful 430 annual river tax imposed by the Environment Agency or face heavy fines and a criminal record.

The caravan/lodge homes are on permanently fixed floating pontoons and connected to main services.   They cannot be fitted with engines and with no means of propulsion are incapable of navigation on the waterways like a boat. 

By law, a registration fee is due on all vessels using the river to help pay the costs of the locks and weirs essential to navigation and services provided to boaters.  The marina home owners use none of these river facilities and pay local Council Tax.

In a victory for common-sense, a Crown Court Judge over-ruled local Magistrates and quashed the convictions of two residents.  He found that the homes were not vessels and not subject to registration fees, and refused the Environment Agency leave to appeal.

Despite the ruling, officials from the Environment Agency, an unelected quango not directly accountable to the public, have now instructed Queen’s Counsel to appeal directly to the Administrative Court. The action comes at enormous cost to the public purse and is a waste of precious navigation funds which should be going only towards maintaining the navigable river.

It is clearly an unequal and unfair ‘David v Goliath’ battle, with the home owners who have already dug deep into their pockets to fight the EA, now having to find thousands of pounds in additional legal fees.  If they lose, they will have to pay the Environment Agency’s legal costs which could amount to 30,000. The peace of their idyllic riverside retirement has been shattered by fears of criminal prosecution and what can only be seen as theft of their limited retirement funds.

But the local marina residents are determined to fight on against the EA’s demands, which amount to a tax without the sanction of Parliament.  They are represented by an active Community Association which is now looking to the public for further donations to fight the injustice all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

They are not alone in fighting the Environment Agency’s arrogance in demanding taxes which have not been approved by Parliament.  In a case with many similarities in South Oxfordshire on the River Thames, very close to David Cameron’s own constituency, residents of boats permanently moored in private off-river marinas are being targeted to pay for facilities they never use. Twenty-four Thames marina berth-holders who refused to be brow-beaten are now to stand trial at Reading in November for failing to meet the Environment Agency’s unlawful demands.

The Environment Agency’s six-year battle to re-classify the private adjacent waters as part of the main river was rejected as unlawful by the Secretary of State in 2010.  River taxes, or registration fees are only due on boats moored on or navigating the river.  Despite the government ruling, last year the Agency arrogantly recommenced threats of prosecution and many berth-holders fearful of the intense bullying just paid up. 

The majority of the berth-holders have worked all their lives, contributing fully to society and are just looking forward to a peaceful retirement by the river.  Like the Cambridgeshire residents, they must find money to pay legal fees to defend themselves in court while the EA can just commit unlimited public funds.  Without equal professional legal representation there is a real danger that justice will not prevail.

If you believe, as we all do, that we cannot allow any unelected quango such as the Environment Agency  make up the law as it goes along and impose taxes without the express sanction of Parliament, then please support us in our fight.   

In the 1628 Petition of Right , Parliament addressed King Charles I in the following terms “….[Y]our subjects have inherited this freedom, that they should not be compelled to  contribute to any tax, tillage, aid, or any other like charge not set by common consent, in Parliament”.  Despite this, Charles attempted to levy an obsolete charge, Ship Money, against an Oxfordshire gentleman, John Hampden.  In the days before judicial independence from the executive was secured, five out of twelve judges were prepared to say the levy was unlawful.  Five years later, his subjects made war against him. 

Five hundred years later, along comes the Environment Agency!

PLEASE VISIT OUR SITE AGAIN SOON TO SEE HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT OUR FIGHT TO MAKE THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY CEASE THEIR UNJUST AND UNLAWFUL ENDEAVOURS

 

  Hartford Marina Community Association - Hartford Marina - Banks End - Wyton - Cambridgeshire PE28 2AA