BW says “Survey and NABO dialogue are invaluable”

British Waterways’ Boaters’ Update May 2010 praises NABO.

BW’s works programme reflects boater feedback (Click on the link for the full article).

BW’s latest survey of more than 2,000 boat owners at the end of 2009 shows that opinions about the overall upkeep, value for money and experiences on the waterways remain stable. It reports that almost nine out of ten boaters (87%) would either definitely or probably recommend boating to other people. However, the survey responses also reflect the shortfall in the money available to spend on waterway maintenance.

The results of BW’s annual survey of boat owners follows the publication of NABO’s 2009 Condition Survey from which BW waterway managers were able to identify more than 190 specific places across the network where boaters had detailed issues requiring urgent attention.

To see how BW have responded to your detailed comments that we submitted, click on their report here.

Over half of urgent issues will be rectified this year

Where possible the feedback from the NABO survey has been incorporated into the scheduling of BW’s 2010 maintenance and engineering programme. By the end of the current financial year, over half (56%) of the urgent issues identified by NABO will have been rectified (of which more than one quarter have already been completed).

The range of issues identified by NABO, and the associated cost of each, varies and includes: completed repairs to the previously sticky paddles at Camden Lock (costing £350), works to the previously overhanging trees affecting navigation above Dukes Lock on the Oxford Canal (costing £5,000), the replaced head and tail gates at Middlewich Big Lock (costing £75,000) and plans in 2010/11 stoppage programme to address the water leaks on the Stoke Bruerne flight (at an estimated cost of £20,000).

The remaining priorities identified by NABO will either be delivered outside this year’s programme because of limited financial resource or require further investigation. There are some instances (11%) where BW has considered the comments and, in the context of its wider backlog of required engineering works, has judged that they are not the highest priority.

Vince Moran, operations director at British Waterways, comments: “BW’s Boat Owners Survey shows that the vast majority of boat owners think that the waterways are at least reasonably well maintained and represent reasonable value for money. However it is also clear that there is far more that could be done with the overall upkeep, availability of visitor moorings and clearance of rubbish, litter and weed from the canal, that would improve boater’s enjoyment of the waterways.

Survey and NABO dialogue are invaluable

“Our survey together with the ongoing dialogue with NABO and others is invaluable in helping us prioritise the limited resources available to spend on maintenance and engineering works. While there will always be difficult decisions about prioritising works to a particular lock or mooring over another, understanding boaters’ attitudes towards the waterways and listening to the issues identified by NABO means that we can make sure that we spend our money as wisely as possible. Doing this will mean that the waterways are safer, easier to use and more pleasant places to spend time.”

David Fletcher, NABO Chairman, said, “It is reassuring to know that BW values boaters’ input, are prepared to listen to what NABO is saying and take action accordingly. Once again this shows that belonging to NABO is good value for money. We hope our dialogue will continue to help British Waterways use their funds to benefit their licence payers.”