Disabled boaters’ forum

Ken Hylins reports on the meeting on 12th April.

I attended this meeting for the first time with an open mind as to what to expect. There were seven people in the Zoom meeting: Matthew Symonds (Chairing) and Rachel Heywood from CRT, a waterway chaplain and other people with an interest in this matter. The following points were brought up at the meeting:

1. CRT spotters are beginning to assess towpaths and structures with regard to disability access, which will take time to complete. However, there will be a charge to get the final publication. A private boater is travelling the cut assessing the canal as regards disabled access. I raised the possibility of using boating organisations’ feedback to help with this matter.

2. CRT would like people/boaters to send a short video saying what they think is important for their staff to consider when dealing with disabled issues and the consideration needed.

3. All future work carried out by CRT will consider disabled needs.

4. CRT is looking to increase the number of marked disabled moorings.

5. The recent equality questionnaire was considered to be invasive. It was stated that this document is being rewritten for clarity and understanding (well done David Fletcher!).

6. The issue of reduced moorings fees for disabled people was brought up two years ago and CRT was criticised for having taken no action on this matter.

7. It was also stated that CRT has difficulty implementing adjustments on rivers as they often don’t own the land.

8. CRT also said that boaters should get help in getting moorings and support from their local welfare and support officer. I challenged this statement as totally incorrect as there is little or no support on this matter for a boater. Mathew Symonds requested to have a meeting with me to follow up my concerns. In conclusion, I found it of value to be able to find out what is going on and the proposed adjustments being considered. I feel there is also value in this forum in raising issues on behalf of NABO members – the shame effect. I will be attending the next meeting on behalf of NABO, but I have an open mind. It gives us another platform to work on and more contacts to work with.