10:55 Tuesday 11 February 2014

Owner fears his boat could be taken despite health issues

Written byMATTHEW COBB

A MAN living on the Trent and Mersey canal in Burton could be made homeless, despite suffering from medical conditions that would permit him to stay.

54-year-old Steve James was first told to move his narrowboat, which is his permanent residence, from its current position around eight to twelve months ago.

Steve, who is originally from Sutton Coldfield, admits he is a recluse and provided health documents to British Waterways stating that he suffers from osteoarthritis, liver problems and has had a number of mental health issues which make it hard for him to move, and would allow him to remain permanently in his current spot.

However he says he has been ignored and has been told to move, while also receiving a number of notices and fines, but says he is willing to sell his boat if he was offered the right amount.

He says that those enforcing the law on the canal could take his boat if he continues to stay moored to his current spot.

Steve told the Mail: “I’m happy to be off the water. I want to move up to Scotland and continue my life there.

“It’s been advertised for sale at the marina in Tamworth for a while now, but I haven’t been able to sell it.”

Steve has twice been to court to try and resolve the situation but says he cannot afford the cost of the legal aid being provided. Therefore the case cannot progress. He said: “They’ve offered me legal aid but that’s £146 a month, then I owe the solicitor in Birmingham £1,000 and each adjournment costs £1,000.

“I’m around £3,000 to £6,000 in debt already and it keeps going up. I’ve never been in debt since I left school but this is just silly.

“If I leave my boat unattended they could take it because I haven’t moved it”

He says that he is trapped as he is unable to renew his license as a result of the ongoing issues, which means that he cannot take his boat to a marina as he will not be allowed in.

He said: ““What I don’t understand is that they’re making the laws so strict now. This could have been sorted properly.”

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust said that the organization was not prepared to comment on the cases of individuals but they do work with any boater involved to understand their individual circumstances.

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