THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Monday, April 24, 2017

Canal & River Trust

NABO meets CRT

NABO meets CRT

Mark Tizard reports on a recent meeting with CRT’s Head of Customer Services.

On Wednesday 29 April, Mike Rodd and I met with Ian Rogers and we had a good, open exchange of views. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, we opened the meeting by thanking CRT for contributing to a surge in new members over the last couple of months! We covered a range of subjects and I've highlighted the key areas below:

Terms and Conditions

We acknowledged the changes that CRT had made to the terms and conditions, largely as a result of NABO’s feedback. We made the point that, as an organisation, we wanted well-written and easily understood terms and conditions, and we were surprised that CRT had not chosen to consult with boating organisations to help it get this right. The fact that the proposed terms and conditions have now been revised as a result of our representations made this clear. We reiterated that, in our view, some of the advice for those with home moorings, for example, was just plain wrong and went beyond CRT’s legal powers.

Enforcement

Ian stated that CRT’s aim was to get boaters to move within a reasonable range to enable the maximum number of boats to enjoy the waterways - and not to remove boats from the canal system. The focus is very much on the boats that have either not moved or hardly moved, and CRT will be robust in its approach. So far, a substantial number of boats that were being offered only a 3-month licence extension from May had not renewed their licences. CRT will be managing the follow-up process externally via their legal advisors for those that do not renew licences.

We queried whether and how winter moorings would affect required movement patterns and we were advised that the availability of winter moorings in the future was currently under review. It was therefore unclear how those boaters who were only granted shorter licences would be affected, but the expectation was that winter moorings would only be available to boaters who were in possession of full 12-month licences.

CRT wants to be seen to be reasonable in dealing with those boaters who have a genuine hardship, breakdown or illness, but evidence may be required if this is only reported towards the end of a licence period after a pattern of non-movement. 

Meetings 

There was agreement that the meetings of boating associations achieved little as they are currently set up, and we discussed using them as briefing sessions, or for CRT to discuss a specific issue. It was agreed that the views of the other associations would be sought. Separately, it was agreed that we would hold regular one-to-one meetings with Ian or other CRT managers when we had issues that we wanted to raise.

Ombudsman 

We queried whether, to ensure the independence of the Ombudsman, the Ombudsman's Committee would contain some boating members who were not appointed by CRT. Ian undertook to look into this as he was unaware of the details.

Support

We reiterated the wealth of experience that exists within NABO and hoped that CRT would consider engaging with us in advance of major changes in future.

CRT winter stopages 2014 -15

Don't forget that CRT have details of the stoppage programme on their web site here.

There is map showing lots of detail. You needed to select 'Notices and Stoppages' in the options box to the right (and unselect anything that you don't want. Then zoom to your area. 

Details of closures are shown in red and further detail in individual links. All good for planing the winter cruise.

CRT meets with the Boating Associations

In attendance at this meeting, called by CRT, on the 3rd of February 2014, were the Chairs and representatives of NABO (Mike Rodd, Mark Tizard), IWA (Les Etheridge and Paul Roper), RBOA (Alan Wildman), AWCC (Paul La Blique) and ACC (Steve Jay and Louise Yeoman). From CRT were CEO Richard Parry, Directors Vince Moran and Simon Salem, and Boating Manager, Sally Ash.

K&A Local Mooring Plan

Local mooring plan for the K&A

Mike Roddgives an update from NABO’s perspective

Following further discussions with interested parties, including NABO, CRT has launched its response to the recent consultation on the towpath mooring plan for the K&A Canal west of Devizes1. This plan was produced by a sub-group of the Waterways Partnership, building upon work undertaken by an earlier and, unfortunately, abandoned working party in which most boating organisations were involved.

NABO has always accepted that CRT has a problem that it inherited from BW on this highly congested stretch of the waterway. Having recently rejected Roving Mooring Permits (consistently opposed by NABO) we believe that the proposed interim local mooring guidelines are a reasonable short-term approach. NABO notes that these are only guidelines but given that they are generally locally supported, they will give all interested parties some breathing space to work out nationally agreed solutions.

In essence, the guidelines provide:

  • A fair and consistent approach to handling applications for exceptional overstays.
  • The adoption of a locally-agreed ‘neighbourhoods’ schedule to clarify movement requirements after 14 days.
  • Agreement (as legally required) to move every 14 days.
  • Agreement to moor in different neighbourhoods with no ‘bridge-hopping’.
  • A range of movement exceeding 20km during the period of the licence.
  • Fair consistent enforcement of the 14-day rule.

However NABO is unhappy about the £25 overstay ‘charge’ (which looks to us like a fine) and the proposed no-return rule, both applicable to visitor moorings. Besides the fact that our legal advisors confirm that both are not legally enforceable (assuming the charge is in fact a penalty as there is no mechanism to pre-pay it), we can't see how they can work in practice.

Is it really sensible for CRT to monitor every visitor mooring on a daily basis, presumably to gather evidence?  How do you fine a hire boater? And, presumably, if a private boater is happy to pay £75 for a week in Bath, CRT will be happy to take his or her money; many would see this as good value. Indeed, how will it be collected and how will boaters ask to stay an extra day?

We understand and support the need to share fairly and suggest that simply saying a maximum of 48-hours stay on a visitor mooring is enough. After that boaters have to move on or action will be taken to move them on as they are obstructing others from using the mooring. We also need to point out that from our own member’s experience and NABO surveys, the issue of overstaying on visitor moorings is mostly not caused by continuous cruisers; it is simply a congestion issue.

Beside the above reservations, NABO welcomes the introduction of this plan for an initial 12 months and hopes that it will be supported by the wider boating community. We are also pleased by CRT’s assurance that it will look at our concerns and related issues in full, as part of a national review in which we and other national bodies will be consulted.

1 See: http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/consultations/completed-consultations

CRT latest on K&A Mooring Plan

CRT have released the summary reports on the consultation for the K&A Mooring Plan.

They comment that there were:

438 completed response questionnaires received as well as 19 separate submissions to the consultation, including eight from local and national organisations with links to the canal.

The consultation questionnaire findings together with the detailed comments highlight a number of areas where boaters, organisations and other stakeholders suggest that changes to the proposals are needed.  Many of the commentators stressed that as they stand, the measures proposed would be unlikely to address all the stated aims.

The Trust will now give serious consideration to the findings and hold further discussions with the Waterway Partnership and Navigation Advisory Group to inform its final executive decision.

The CRT consultation page is here:

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/consultations/completed-consultations

The feedback report is here:

http://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/5246.pdf

NABO will comment is due course.