In this paper, NABO is responding to CRT’s recent consultation and Zoom meetings, seeking suggestions from boaters to further address congestion, principally in the London area.
For several years, CRT sought views via the Boater Relationship Group and subsequently, when this collapsed, it facilitated meetings that resulted in the publication of its London Strategy document in June 2018. This document outlined the actions that CRT would take to address congestion in London.
We are concerned that CRT is seeking to repeat this exercise without first implementing a significant number of the promised outcomes. Surely, after all the effort that went into the 2018 strategy document, it would make sense to implement it in full and then carry out a review of where the strategy had worked or failed, before seeking to repeat the exercise. By CRT’s own figures the numbers of boats have not risen substantially since the strategy was published. The effects of the current pandemic have seen boats spread out further and the longer-term implications are as yet unclear.
Editor, Peter Fellows, looks at what might be in store for a rejuvenated NABO Council next year.
Following appeals for more members to help with NABO, the Council is delighted to welcome three new members: Anne Husar, who will take on the role of Publicity and Communications Officer; Peter Braybrook, who will also be the West Midlands Rep.; and John Devonald, who will also be the South East Rep. Additionally, we welcome Matt Thompson as the new North West Rep. and Peter Braley who will cover the East Midlands and the River Trent. I would also like to welcome Jim and Jackie Buckley who, together with Anne, will join the team of NABO News proof-readers.
At a short, combined CRT Council and AGM in November, last year’s annual report and accounts were accepted. Topics of particular note included:
- Application for renewal of the Defra Grant – which accounts for about a quarter of CRT’s income – will be submitted on 6th December; whilst the Government is under no obligation to extend the grant beyond 2026/7, CRT feels that a solid case is being made for increased funding. A decision is expected in July 2022.
- Covid-19 continues to throw up challenges but winter works should proceed unhindered and the impact on income is estimated at -10%. A special fundraising appeal, launched the previous day, drew 450 responses in the first few hours. However, Friends numbers have fallen nearly 7% over the year.
- T&Cs consultation: CRT reports a ‘net positive’ result so far, whilst acknowledging some proposals need more clarity ..... that doesn’t seem to chime with what we see and hear!
The online meeting of TNUF in October was, rather like the recent NNUF meeting, yet another example of how not to use the available technology – in this case a voice-only system was used, with most users being muted until being asked if they had any queries, following the EA presentations. Those who said they did were then noted and given time to comment, but there was really no opportunity for any proper debate, and most queries answered by: “We will take that up after the meeting”. In truth, most of the material presented was a rerun of the NNUF materials with, of course, more reference to the Thames situation. I must say, though, that this time the EA presenters did try not to just read through their previously provided material, but to give what proved to be good summaries. The overview of Thames work being undertaken now and in the near future was particularly impressive and it is clear that the additional funding provided is being well used.
Of special interest to me was the presentation by the Managing Director of District Enforcement (DE), the car-parking company that has been awarded (in somewhat odd and non-user consulted circumstances), the contract to monitor and then enforce short-term moorings on the majority of EA’s Thames sites. The give-away for me was in one of his written statements, that an aim and objective of the contract was to ‘increase the number of enforcement actions, particularly the service of mooring charge notices’. Of course, this does reflect the nature of the contract, in that DE makes its income from this work primarily through user ‘fines’ for overstaying. When I queried this as a ‘prime objective’ of the contract, I was told by the Chair that the EA feels that it is quite appropriate to operate a car-parking approach to their moorings, and if users chose to overstay, then the proposed charges were fully acceptable. To my surprise, I appeared to be one of few user representatives who were concerned about this matter and I can only conclude that most Thames users are happy with this approach.