First steps have been taken to move boats from moorings on the Thames at Brentford where a new marina is planned.

Hounslow Council says the current moorings occupied by 50 mostly houseboats are unlawful with boat-owners paying no licence fees.Legal letters have been issued to get the boats to move.

The council says there are concerns that some of the boats may be disposing sewage directly into the river. In addition, its says many boats are not fit for purpose. Some owners do not live on board but let them to others and there are anxieties that the boats are sub-standard as rental properties.

The new £6 million marina at Waterman's Park will provide 26 new moorings, some available for live-aboards. It is part of Hounslow Council’s regeneration plan for Brentford.  In order to develop the design of the marina, surveys of the riverbed are necessary and to do this all the existing boats must be moved.

Some of  the owners and occupiers of the moored boats have said that they need time to  get their boats river-worthy before being able to leave the site. The council says it will work with them to make this process as smooth as possible and has issued the letters in an effort to encourage dialogue. 

Each boat-owner has been invited to make representation to determine how much time is needed to leave the area. Hounslow Council's Housing Services team has pledged to support those people living on the boats who need advice on alternative accommodation.

Some of the boat owners say they have been there for many years and the council has no right to evict them. Evicted boaters will be able to apply for the new moorings but will not get priority. Mooring fees will be at "current London rates".

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said: “Let’s be clear from the outset, these boats are moored unlawfully. Some of the people living on the boats are littering, getting rid of their waste directly into the river and are trespassing to get access to their boats, which is unfair on owners who pay their mooring fees and the general public.

“We’re offering our full support to everyone living on the boats and will advise on issues such as housing to those who may need it.

“Too many times in the past, Hounslow Council administrations have failed to tackle this problem and take forward plans to create a clean, safe, accessible marina. Now we have an exciting opportunity to regenerate the area and it’s high time the issue of unlawful moorings is resolved.

"There is support for this action from other river users. We’re doing the right thing."

Story dated October 21st 2015