Watch The People's Flotilla Against Austerity set sail as it pledged support to the campaign against evictions and cuts on the Cut.
For the first time boat dwellers, union members, canal uses, enthusiasts and unexpectant members of the public gathered in Milton Keynes with the People's Flotilla Against Austerity and made a stand against the evictions that are being imposed by the Canal and River Trust (CRT) on the most vulnerable, elderly and disabled boaters.
Speakers from the National Bargee-Traveller Association, the Green Party, Milton Keynes Against the Cuts and the People's Assembly addressed the crowd from the back of a boat which formed part of the protest.
Before speeches got underway boats were draped in banners, flags and posters. As the event went on more boats arrived and tied themselves to the already breasted boats.
John Rees from The People's Assembly Against Austerity said ''the cuts that are happening to the canal system are happening to every institution in the country'.
Any initial nerves and concerns to join the stunt and to form the blockade were soon overcome once people realised that the action was supported by the public and that they had a right to protest.
One disabled, live-aboard boater who was threatened with eviction said; "I finally decided to join the stunt, after watching it from the bridge, because people are standing up for us and giving us a voice".
Pauline, a pensioner who lives on the canal said; 'I have a friend who is suffering with cancer. Myself and my friend went to the CRT offices and asked them if it was possible to over stay? They replied "yes of course it is. It will only be an extra £200 a month." This is a woman who is on a £400 pension.'
Richard, another canal dweller, asked why CRT are spending £120 million on a building in Manchester that was no way near the canal and not spending it on the canals. Richard highlighed the fact that the "canals are collapsing everywhere and they should be spending money on the canals to make it safe for us to live on".
Whilst gathering more signatures for the petition passersby who were unaware of the issues commented "It's a disgrace. This is exactly what they are doing across the rest of society."
The final petition with over 5700 signatures demanding that CRT stop evicting people was delivered the head office of CRT at 5pm.
The Green Youth, other youngsters and people who joined in on the day for their first ever protest enthusiastically handed out flyers for the National Demonstration Against Austerity on the 21st June in London.
Inspired new members continued discussing the issues well into the evening with a family social on the towpath.
Join the People's Flotilla Against Austerity bloc on the national demonstration. Look out for the large inflatable boat float!
People interested in joining us to travel down to London from Milton Keynes on the 21st of June should meet us at 10:45am to catch the 11:06 train from Milton Keynes train station.
For further details please email email@example.com or join our Facebook group The People's Flotilla Against Austerity.
Co-authored by Anita de Klerk and Clare Solomon