CRT announces £3m additional investment in the waterways for boaters

The Canal & River Trust has announced a £3m package of additional investment in the waterways to improve the experience for boaters and other visitors.

Around £2m will fund dredging projects on the Erewash Canal, Trent & Mersey and a number of sections of the North Stratford Canal.  This completes the full £7m dredging programme that the Trust will deliver this year, as part of its commitment to deliver £80m of dredging over the ten years from 2013.

In addition, just over £1m of new money will go into a variety of other customer service improvements such as further vegetation management, repairing waterway walls and towpaths, improving sanitary stations and mooring locations and making lock operation easier.

This additional investment is available because the Trust is anticipating that it will exceed its revenue target for the year and earn more money than originally planned.  The investment will be targeted at specific projects across the network, identified locally from customer feedback.

A breakdown of the additional work is appended; it will include:

·         improving sanitary stations on the North West and Midlands canals, the Kennet & Avon Canal and in London;

·         lock operation improvements on the Calder & Hebble and Huddersfield Narrow Canal

·         tackling more offside vegetation in the South West, London and on the Shropshire Union Canal; and,

·         providing better visitor moorings in Chester, Macclesfield, London, Birmingham and the East Midlands.

The plans have the support of the Trust’s independent Navigation Advisory Group – a panel of boaters from a variety of backgrounds who provide advice and feedback on issues including safety, maintenance, moorings and licensing.  Boaters are invited to send any further suggestions to their local waterway team.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Trust said: “It’s great news that, thanks to a lot of great work behind the scenes, we’re in a position to put this extra investment into improving things for our boating customers.

“I’ve spent a lot of time listening to boaters, through my series of open meetings and elsewhere, and I know that these are some of the things that have a real bearing on their experience of our waterways.  That’s why I’m very pleased that, with guidance from our Navigation Advisory Group, we can target this investment at those areas we know will really make a difference.

“We’ve made clear our commitment to improving things for customers as part of our strategy for the next ten years, and we want to maintain the dialogue with boaters to ensure that, when opportunities arise to increase our spending, we can be responsive and apply our resources to make a positive difference.”

Mike Carter, chair of the Navigation Advisory Group added: “It is great to see the Trust delivering on its commitment to invest to improve those services that boaters value the most.  My Group has appreciated the chance to input our experience into this process.”

The news comes shortly after the Trust announced a series of changes to its structure aimed at improving customer service and building closer links with communities and those that enjoy the waterways.

The projects will take place between now and April 2015, and the breakdown of the additional investment is as follows:

·         North Stratford Canal dredging – £400,000

·         Trent & Mersey Canal dredging – £200,000

·         Erewash Canal dredging – £500,000

·         National spot dredging programme – £900,000

·         Towpath improvements including wash wall – £375,000

·         Sanitary station improvements – £225,000

·         Offside vegetation with access improvements – £225,000

·         Visitor mooring improvements – £165,000

·         Lock operation improvements – £55,000