Letter to British Waterways sent 10th October 2006.
Dear Mr Whyatt,
Following our meeting with Mr Murray Geddes on 20th September, we are writing to formally propose a mutually beneficial short-term solution to the lack of boatyard facilities in Oxford.
As part of the Working Group that includes yourselves, we await with interest Mr Bob Duxbury’s findings as to the planning and access issues involved on the potential sites we have looked at together. We fully appreciate the challenging nature of sourcing and commissioning a new DIY boatyard, and we realise that this cannot be accomplished instantly.
In the meantime however, our community continues to manage without proper boatyard facilities in the locality. The knock on effects of this absence are now becoming a source of grave concern. For those people whose boats are their only home, it raises some serious and potentially dangerous issues over compliance with the Boat Safety Scheme, not to mention the basic rights of a home owner to maintain their home in a comfortable and pleasant condition.
We are also aware that Oxford City Council will not grant planning permission for a development at Castlemill to go ahead until replacement boatyard facilities are in place, and that against a backdrop of further unfortunate funding cuts to British Waterways, over £30,000 a month is being expended in maintaining this site empty and unused.
With this in mind, a logical solution to our respective impasse would be for British Waterways to rent Castlemill to this Company until such a time as a suitable replacement boatyard opens. At this point boatyard issues will abruptly cease to be an impediment to the planning permission and to the disposal of the site for the best price.
In consideration of British Waterways’ understandable desire to pass vacant possession to any new purchaser, this Company would enter into a legally binding agreement to vacate, just as soon as the anticipated replacement facility was up and running.
We realise that in the past British Waterways has been faced with difficulties engaging with the whole of Oxford’s boating community, especially on matters of import such as this, because at no point until the present has there existed a legally accountable body that was properly representative of the boaters. As such a body, we would now urge you to look forwards with us, and seriously consider this mutually beneficial proposal that would generate such enormous goodwill.
We await your earliest response please, on both this matter and the situation relating to possible new sites, because the boat maintenance situation in Oxford is fast becoming critical.
For Jericho Community Boatyard Ltd.