Peter Fellows outlines some important issues that are expected to feature this year.
As Mike Rodd points out in his Chairman’s column, 2022 is an important year for the future of the waterways, with the Defra review of CRT funding underway as well as the (ongoing and seemingly continuous) reorganisation within the EA navigation division. The outcomes of both are difficult to predict. But, in the wider context of Government spending, many commentators are forecasting a reduction in CRT’s grant and the transfer of the EA waterways to the Trust. Neither gives much cause for optimism. Unless the Defra review recommends sufficient funding for waterway maintenance to halt the deterioration of infrastructure assets, it is difficult to see how the current situation will improve. To achieve this, I and others have long argued for a separation of CRT’s navigation responsibilities from its wellbeing agenda. The waterways are a national asset that requires national (i.e. central Government) funding, with a ring-fenced budget that is realistic to properly maintain them. This would stop the constant (and justified) criticism of CRT for wasting money on signage, PR and other non-waterway expenditure, as described in this issue by Ian Hutson and a letter from Robert Neff.
Boaters moored in the Tower Hamlets borough of London have recently been issued with orders to stop using their stoves and running their engines, now that boats are included in a new Environment Act. John Devonald has looked into the implications and repercussions of this in an article in this issue. John also takes an in-depth look at the often forgotten question of antifreeze in engine coolant systems.
2022 also sees the 20th anniversary of the Anderton Lift restoration and Anne Husar traces the little known connection between the lift designer, Edwin Clark, and the development of the enormous boat-lifts in Belgium. Elsewhere, David Fletcher has carefully considered the detail in CRT’s privacy documents and concluded that, in several respects, a judge would be unlikely to find them lawful. Ken Hylins gives a personal account of the lack of support he experienced from CRT’s welfare and support officer during recent illness and questions why CRT insists that liveaboard boaters have to move every 14 days during the latest upsurge in Covid infections. In a related letter, Stephen Peters notes that, albeit unwittingly, CRT is a housing provider for liveaboard boaters and calls on navigation authorities to appoint housing officers in addition to welfare officers. Finally, if you are considering replacing your batteries this winter, take a look at Phil Brooke-Little’s detailed recommendations in Techie’s Corner for installing lithium iron phosphate batteries.
Enjoy your winter boating.