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Islington boat owners forced to move homes after Olympics take over Regent’s Canal

PUBLISHED: 16:08 18 July 2012

The Angel Canal Festival. Picture: Tony Gay

The Angel Canal Festival. Picture: Tony Gay

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

Many canal boat owners moored in Islington have been forced to uproot their homes on the Regent’s Canal due to Olympic waterway restrictions.

Some 176 barge dwellers have been forced to move as a restriction zone takes effect, spanning 15 miles of water from Little Venice to the Lime House Basin in Docklands and the Lea Navigation in Tottenham.

The restrictions, which have been set up for security reasons and to keep the waterways clear during the games, will remain in place until the beginning of September and affect the 370 boats that take advantage of rules allowing anyone to use moorings as long as they move every 14 days.

Of these, 194 boat owners have paid for special licences – costing from £36 to £350 a week – to stay within the Olympic zone.

Chairman of Friends of Regent’s Canal, Ian Shacklock, said: “We can’t wait for it to be over to be honest.

“It’s like living in a street and suddenly every parking bay has been claimed for a VIP. The canal around Islington tunnel is normally full of boats and now it’s completely empty.

“They even wanted to close one of the locks completely, which would have reduced the Regent’s Canal to a lake rather than a network, but we have negotiated for it to be open a certain number of hours a day.”

The restrictions have also caused a headache for those behind the Angel Canal Festival – but the September 2 event will still go ahead and the organisers and Islington Council are confident about reaching a compromise.

It is hoped that The Canal and River Trust will relax the restrictions to allow boats with advanced vetting and security escorts to attend the event.

Islington Council leader Catherine West, who has been heavily involved in the negotiations, said: “We want the festival to run as smoothly as possible. We’re trying to apply reason and get a common sense solution for the festival as it really doesn’t have an affect on the Paralympics.

“We are yet to hear back but we hope to run everything according to plan.”

Jason Leach, head of Olympic programmes at The Canal and River Trust, said security restrictions were “inevitable” to accommodate the many people who wanted to visit London, some in canal boats and yachts.

He said: “The Olympics has brought about an extraordinary transformation of the canals of London and allowed us to restore and reopen waterways which had been clogged and abused since the Blitz.”

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