River Cam bargee community to fight threat of eviction by the city council in Cambridge

PUBLISHED: 16:30 10 February 2018

National Bargee Travellers Association banner

National Bargee Travellers Association banner

ILIFFE

Travellers say they are being forced into homelessness by the council

Cambridge’s bargee traveller community on the River Cam is to continue fighting the threat of eviction by the city council.

More than 1,200 people have now signed an online petition calling for the council to end its plans to boot them off the river.

The petition, started by local teacher Eleanor Lad, who lives on a barge on the Cam, is aimed at getting the council to stop its plans.

Mrs Lad said: “The council, in collaboration with and influenced by Cambridge University and Cam Conservators, intend to ‘socially cleanse’ the River Cam of its highly vulnerable bargee traveller community, which would lead to widespread homelessness.

“This racially and ethnically diverse community, many of who are families with children, and many of who have protected characteristics such as disability, Roma status, age and pregnancy/maternity, are seen as a huge asset by local residents who are in uproar over the treatment of their neighbours.

“Bargee travellers on the River Cam are part of our local and national heritage and as such should be protected, not evicted, and allowed to moor without further disproportionate interference in the right to private and family life by the authorities.”

Without a mooring licence, obtained by reaching the top of one of the waiting lists, the council classes bargee travellers as ‘illegally moored’ and subject them to an eviction process.

But a spokesperson for the National Bargee Travellers Association added: “Evicting bargee travellers from the river will cause them to lose not only school places for their children, which is in breach of their children’s right to an education under Protocol One, Article Two of the European Convention on Human Rights, but also links with families, support networks and the local community.

“Those with marine mortgages for their boats would lose their jobs and thus become homeless. Such disproportionate interference by an authority with a duty of care, with no respect for the home and private family life, breaches their convention rights.”

Mrs Lad and her family have been on the council waiting list for four years and were forced to move from their last mooring to one further outside of the city due to the completion of a development scheme.

Cllr Richard Robertson, the executive councillor for finance and resources, said: “No one who is licensed or registered to moor off council land on the river is being evicted. We are working carefully with the licensed and regulated boat dwellers to ensure we can move people prior to works being carried out.”

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