Houseboat left abandoned in red-tape row


Once upon a time social workers Chris Miller and his wife Sze Liu Lai lived in a tiny flat in East London with their two children Alexion and Tayszea. As the youngsters grew up their parents wanted a bigger home.
But with little earning power they were obliged to switch from terra firma to the cheaper acres which H2O can sometimes offer. They bought an 86ft Thames lighter, spent £80,000 using reclaimed materials turning her into a remarkable-looking houseboat, with plenty of environmentally correct features, such as a composting toilet, recycled water system, and a wood burning stove to cook on and provide hot water and heating.
They even constructed a striking-looking tower to provide a place to mount a wind generator.
This plucky couple’s attempt at a brave new world appears to have collapsed once they tried to moor the home on the banks of Kent’s River Medway. The eco-barge, as the TV programme Grand Designs – which featured the build – dubbed her, now lies abandoned a mile off the Essex coast, on an isolated mooring. It is believed that unenlightened council red-tape saw the luckless couple chased from pillar to post.
Local government officers lie awake at night worrying about the potential avoidance of council tax such floating no-fixed-abodes present.
For my money such projects should be allowed to flourish. Houseboat communities,more often than not, add to society’s self-reliance, wellbeing, and character.