In the Chair September 2018

Getting to know you

Stella Ridgway looks back over five years of engagement with CRT.

As the CRT Annual General Meeting is coming up, I thought I would reflect on the last year and, indeed, the five years since I started attending these AGMs. The Trust started out with Richard Parry going to boaters’ forums, meeting with boaters’ organisations and generally engaging … and then this engagement evaporated. While Richard still goes to events (I know he attends most Roving Traders’ Events), we in NABO have had a void in formal communications for the last two years. The only engagement is the six-monthly Regional User Forums, the National Advisory Groups (the Licensing NAG was recently disbanded) and the National User Forum. The reorganisation, announced last November, finally came into effect in June and it is proposed that there will be meetings held quarterly around the regions to give us a chance to get to know the new Regional Directors. It is hoped that they will be able to establish best practice with regards to having boaters represented on Regional Advisory Boards. NABO held an initial meeting with Jon Horsfall, the new Head of Customer Service, and has scheduled another meeting for September, so we hope to have met by the time you read this. The focus for this next meeting is ‘working together’, which seems to be a recurring theme at every meeting the Trust has; ‘using boaters’ knowledge’. But if the Trust wants boaters and boating organisations to help, it should acknowledge publicly the assistance and advice provided by NABO, other organisations and the Boaters’ Reps on Council. Boaters give their time and expertise through their representation on NAG and various sub-groups.

The Trust is encouraging the use of its customer service online reporting tool to capture all the reports that customers and other users make. The online reporting tool is good, but there have been a few instances of a disconnect between reporting something and it being acted upon. Some reports of things such as towpath use, which you might think would be national, are collected separately in each region. This runs the danger of them not being acted on in a cohesive manner, and the system looks disjointed. However, I do like the online chat option and I know that the Customer Service team are looking at ways to provide feedback so that boaters can check the status of a reported fault: this would help immensely.

As another boating ‘season’ draws to a close, I have to complement the Boating Team on their handling of communications about major infrastructure ‘events’ this year. It highlights the importance of registering an email address with the Trust; notwithstanding the recent data breaches. I hope that this will be addressed at the Trust’s AGM. NABO’s own AGM is in November and I hope that more members can attend, now that we have scheduled it for a Sunday. If there is anything you feel that we should concentrate on in the coming year, please let us know.