NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.

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Another fascinating year in the life of NABO

Mike Rodd’s 2020-21 Annual Report to the AGM

This has been a particularly interesting year and especially a real joy to be working with so many new members of your Council, even if the bulk of meetings have had to be via the internet. It has also been encouraging to see a small increase in membership – largely, I am sure, because of the issues we have been tackling, which have a direct impact on most boaters.

What has been the most worrying development, however, has been the seemingly growing feeling that both CRT and the EA are actively ignoring the views of their prime customers, us boaters. Yes, at times we have publicly opposed some of their actions and/or proposals, but we have consistently said that we aim to fill the role of – and indeed must always remain – their ‘critical friends’. And with both of their agreements regarding government funding coming up soon, they need more friends than ever right now – and especially the boaters, who care more than anyone else about the waterways!

Are we about to witness different licences for continuous cruisers?

Mike Rodd believes that this is what the new words in CRT’s terms and conditions are saying, even though CRT denies this.

At last we were able to have a real NABO Council meeting and it was such a pleasure to meet our new councillors physically! It is amazing how we have coped over the past year, especially with so much going on in both CRT and the EA – but nothing can replace a face-to-face discussion. With the AGM coming up in a few months, we do have an urgent need to recruit someone to take over Mark Tizard’s roles as General Secretary and Vice Chairman. Sadly, Mark has sold his beautiful boat and will be stepping down from the Council. He has made a huge contribution to our work in so many ways.

Has any notice been taken of us? Of course not...

Mike Rodd compares and contrasts the BSS with navigation authorities.

I must be terribly naïve! In my simple mind, if I were applying to the Government to continue/extend a multimillion ongoing annual grant, I would want my most influential and committed customers to be supporting my application and giving it as much positive publicity as possible. Not so, CRT or EA, it appears.

As will be known from previous editions of NABO News, both CRT and EA will be applying for further government funding in the next five or six years. In both cases, however, they seem to be hell-bent on ignoring the views of most of the boater representative organisations.

The present situation regarding CRT’s current revisions to the Terms and Conditions for boat licences is a classic case. Yes, there was a public consultation – well, sort of, as long as you had good internet access (which of course many boaters don’t, denying them the chance to comment – but hey, they are only boaters, so why worry?).

A month of meetings

Mike Rodd reports on the work of an active NABO Council.

At last – back on our boat for a week – it was wonderful; and good to see the hire fleets starting to operate again. Of course, being based in Wales, we were always slightly out of line with England, but at last the lifting of the two sets of lockdown restrictions overlapped! And with the spring blossoms bursting through, even though a bit chilly still, it was a lovely time to be out on the water.

The NABO Council is busier than ever – everywhere we look, we see matters that need our attention – but thankfully, with a full Council again and with the very energetic new folk joining us, the load is well spread and we are coping – even if our teleconference-based meetings are getting very long.

We wait, of course, with bated breath for CRT’s next version of the proposed new Terms and Conditions for private boat licences. I hope that by the time you read this, we will know where we are, although the report given at the National Users Forum seemed to indicate that there would be few changes – except (to our delight) that the T&Cs would be far more readable! As we (and our lawyers) have consistently said, we are positive about many of the proposed changes. But there are some proposals that we (and again, our lawyers) believe are contrary to the underlying Waterways Act and the T&Cs simply cannot be allowed to create such a conflict. To this end, you will have seen that our colleagues in the NBTA (National Bargees and Travellers Association) are also taking legal advice, and we have agreed to assist them.

Electric boats and mooring congestion

Mike Rodd describes just two of the issues facing NABO.

I hope that some of you might be able to get out on your boats soon – it has been so frustrating and worrying, especially if your boat is not safe in a well-managed marina. I had to handle a report last week of a boat close to us on the K&A, slowly sinking – all we could do was to inform CRT, as nobody knew who the boat owner was.

With so many boater consultations presently under way, I suspect we are all getting bored with answering them, so I am sorry if we have made thing worse by asking you to respond to the one on aspects of the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS). We do need, however, to ensure that we are aware of any concerns you have, or improvements that might need to be made. We have always actively supported the BSS, and are involved in most of its committees and advisory groups, but we are very aware that changes are continually required to deal with technical developments. For example, we will increasingly need to focus on electrical issues. In fact, many boaters in the London area will simply have to become more electric-based, given what is happening there with the creation of so-called ‘eco-moorings’. These have electrical supply points made available (if booked and the electricity is paid for!) and the accompanying gradual banning of both running diesel engines and burning cheaper coal and wood. (Of course, these moorings also go a long way to keep the complaining residents of the very expensive canalside homes happy!)