THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Canal & River Trust

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 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.

Is there a need for a CRT welfare manager?

Recently CRT legally removed a boat from its waters using the section 8 process and in so doing effectively made a mentally ill boater homeless. This is a pretty provocative statement and feelings around this event recently ran high on the boating forums and web journals. In short order a petition asking CRT to stop evicting vulnerable boaters raised 4000 signatures.

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.

Article by CRT's Richard Parry

Canal & River Trust: A positive future by working together

CRT’s Chief Executive, Richard Parry, set out his vision for the Trust

 

I grew up in a village on the Trent, had many canal holidays as a boy and, since I moved to the West Midlands six years ago, the canals have been a special local place for me and my family to enjoy. So I leapt at the chance to be the Trust’s Chief Executive, especially given the many opportunities we have as a new charity, and I am just as excited by what we can achieve after almost five months in post.

Our Mission is now unambiguously to protect, manage and enhance the 2000 miles of canals and river navigations in our care, making them widely available to use and enjoy - both the remarkable heritage of the industrial canals and the wonderful natural environment. Use for navigation is central of course; beyond that our waterways are also used and appreciated by millions of people for a wide range of activities or simply for escape and tranquillity.

While our mission is about the ‘assets’ – both the physical and the heritage – it is people who are central to our vision for the waterways. It is through making connections with people, inspiring them to engage with history, nature, and the opportunities that our waterways provide for leisure, recreation and general wellbeing, that their long-term future will be secured.

I think it is clear that our approach is different from the past: outside Government, we can act independently, with a clear focus on achieving what’s best for our canals and rivers, without any need to meet annual Treasury targets or suffer mid-year interventions. We have a new inclusive governance structure that involves a wide range of those who value and use our canals and rivers in our decision-making. I see this broad and active involvement from those on and around the waterways as essential to our new approach, working with partners, with a strong focus on local engagement.

Our Waterway Partnerships are at the heart of how we function – opening the door for greater local involvement in the Trust. Local engagement is vital because for many people the canals and rivers are entirely local, with only a limited sense of the whole network; with half of the population living within five miles of one of our waterways we have both a strong local and national presence. We have almost fifty ‘community adoptions’ and rising across England & Wales. There is a new spirit of involvement released as people come together with a common passion and commitment.

I am determined to promote this involvement, to listen to what our users want. I spent much of my first three months in the role travelling around, meeting with and listening to people, including many boaters. While the Trust is fortunate to have numerous talented and committed employees, there is also an abundance of knowledge available beyond the organisation to help us make the right choices and decisions and we will harness that input. Evidence of this approach can be seen in our commitment to spend a lot more money on dredging over the next five years, and in the decision to use any surplus funds this year to attack the worst areas of offside vegetation. We’ve recently announced a significant change to our proposals for business and community boat licences as a result of listening to the feedback we received. During the winter I will be hosting a series of open meetings to listen to individual boaters and their concerns, and I’ll also be inviting NABO and other boating/waterway organisations to a series of meetings to discuss our longer term plans.

As a new charity it is also vital that we raise awareness and connect with new audiences – that is why, for example, the coverage we get from our recent Open Days, like the one at Hampstead Road Locks in Camden which got prominent national media coverage – are so important in engaging with the public. It is why we are so delighted with our partnerships with Google and the coverage that has generated. Consequently we are seeing growth in wider support – we have over 5,500 friends regularly donating and this is rising – we added another 30 as a result of the Open Days, for example. We know there is a lot more we can do in our fundraising and we’ll learn from our experience and refine our approach for the future.   

We believe the Trust has already demonstrated it can deliver a substantial public benefit, delivering better outcomes with reduced call on the taxpayer, with around half the funding this year that BW was taking from Government ten years ago. Importantly, we have secured greater funding certainty, free from current public spending cuts, so we are able to plan for the long-term, which itself will deliver efficiency.

Looking to the future we face many challenges. We don’t have as much money as we would like of course and still have very difficult choices to make as we prioritise our spending. There is no easy solution to the pressures on towpath mooring, though we are working much more actively than in the past to address the problems. We have to ensure that HS2 takes full account of the waterways – both to mitigate impacts at our most cherished canal beauty spots and to take advantage of opportunities for urban regeneration. We have to ensure regulation of water supplies doesn’t interfere with navigation or other uses, or jeopardise our income streams. We also see enormous potential to expand our impact. We had record numbers of people visiting our canals and rivers this summer and our local connections are growing steadily; volunteer numbers are rising fast. The Trust has built a firm foundation and can look forward with confidence. 

Among other notable anniversaries, next year is the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the Stratford Canal, a key milestone in the recovery of our canal system and a moment when we can reflect on how much has been achieved in the last five decades by so many individuals. It is also a time to look ahead, to remind ourselves of what can be achieved by working together in a common purpose, as I believe we have started to do.

 

CRT plans for better communication (from a CRT press release):

§       Open meetings for Richard to meet boaters and hear their views, starting in early 2014.

§       A large-scale survey of boat owners’ views this winter with results published in the spring.

§       An ongoing boaters’ research panel to track what a representative sample of boaters thinks about what we’re doing to inform what the Trust does.

§       Regular meetings with national boating organisations and local user groups to discuss the Trust’s longer term priorities including proposals for repair and maintenance work for 2014/15 and beyond.

§       Informal input from national user groups to the planned extra £2m spend on offside vegetation control.

§       Regular social media live chat sessions with Richard to reach those who may not be able to come to meetings.

§       Identifying boaters who are willing to help achieve better communication on the ground, working with waterway teams to provide up-to-date information to those out cruising via notice boards and the ‘towpath telegraph’ as well as digital media.

§       Bi-monthly updates on the Trust’s efforts to support better and fairer use of towpath moorings, with the first report available now.

§       A review of our traditional User Group meetings to ensure they meet the needs of boaters and other users and to encourage as many people as possible to attend.

§       Every two months, Richard will hold a briefing with the waterway press to set out current performance and take questions about any Trust activities or future plans.