Mike Rodd represented NABO at this biannual meeting, well attended by most of the National Boating Organisations which cover the EA navigations.
In many ways, a positive meeting as user organisations recognised that the EA personnel were do their best in the midst of extremely worrying times, with continual pressure on them to do more with less. Indeed, a bottom-line was that they are expecting another 30% budget cut in the very near future. They recognise that this will inevitably have an impact on their ability to maintain the assets they are responsible for and that their current high level of 87.9% of assets in a satisfactory condition, will decline.
It was also reported that as one of 4 EA projects (funded from a special government initiative to investigate possible IT-based efficiency improvements) they were exploring with interested parties the introduction of an online boat registration system (NABO’s Dennis Hill is our representative in this work). EA confirmed that they were also working closely with CRT to ensure that the latter’s experience was taken account of.
A detailed report on the trial civil enforcement process for the management of the EA’s visitor mooring sites, based at 3 sites on the Thames, had proved to be very successful and there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of boats reported as overstaying. As a result, they were extending the scheme to 22 other popular mooring sites. (It was noted that a different car park management company had won this new contract.) They were also talking to local authorities recommending that the scheme be extended to sites under their control. NABO raised the issue reported to us that boats without home moorings were being charged the full amount when they were trapped on visitor moorings by Red Boards. EA denied that this was happening.
The meeting concluded with an interesting survey of some of their work on navigations other that the larger ones. Of particular interest was that they have managed to fund the acquisition of their own dredging equipment so they could undertake the regular dredging required by rivers such as the Medway rather than use their present (and very expensive) contractors. An interesting reversal in policy.
The full documentation presented is available here: