Conviction for breaking river laws

Kupe and Rhythm of River were illegally moored by Molesey Lock
Kupe and Rhythm of River were illegally moored by Molesey Lock
Waterways officers had to tow the houseboats to a wider part of the Thames
Waterways officers had to tow the houseboats to a wider part of the Thames
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The owner of a pair of 25m houseboats obstructing a busy part of the River Thames in Surrey has been convicted of breaking river laws.

The owner of a pair of 25m houseboats obstructing a busy part of the River Thames in Surrey has been convicted of breaking river laws.

Alistair Trotman, 55, of Kingston upon Thames, was warned by the Environment Agency (EA) that he was flouting bylaws designed to keep the river safe and clear after he broke limits on the time a boat can be moored in one place at or near a lock.

Trotman, who rented out the vessels Kupe and Rhythm of River as permanent and temporary accommodation, left the former commercial barges end-to-end in an EA lay-by at Molesey, between October 2018 and the following March.

A formal direction to move was issued by the Thames harbour master, but the vessels were not moved.

This led the Environment Agency, which owns the riverbank at Molesey Lock, to take Trotman to court for compromising the safe passage of other boats through the lock.

Sitting at Staines magistrates’ court, district judge Susan Cooper was told Trotman’s inconsiderate actions exposed other boats and their crews to obstruction and possible danger.

Contempt

“Trotman showed contempt for the rules,” said Colin Chiverton, environment manager for the River Thames at the EA. “He not only moored both boats in the same place for several months, but then snubbed formal harbour master notices to move.”

When Trotman refused the agency’s instructions to move the boats in March 2019, waterways officers had to tow them to an EA mooring on a wider part of the Thames.

On 7 October 2021, Staines Magistrates’ Court convicted Trotman, of Castle Street, Kingston upon Thames, of causing or allowing Kupe and Rhythm of River to remain in a lock, channel or cut for longer than necessary.

Trotman was also found guilty of twice failing to comply with a harbour master notice to move the boats when directed. Both offences were in breach of the Thames Navigation Licensing and General Byelaws 1993 and the Thames Conservancy Act 1932.

Trotman, who represented himself, consistently denied he was in the wrong. He will be sentenced on November 24.

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