Well here I am again. Not quite what I had in mind, but Council have asked me to continue as Chairman for the present. This is not what I would have wished and it really has to stop some time soon. The AGM took place in Bradford on Avon in November and those members who stood for Council were returned unopposed. I welcome Jane Taylor to Council as a new member. She attended her first Council meeting and already is offering a new perspective and experience. You can read some words of introduction elsewhere.
Your Council faces some tough decisions going forward and the present group cannot do this alone or in isolation. The AGM endorsed the need for an increase in membership fees and the letter above explains this. In addition many of the Council members have served for years and years, and cannot be expected to continue indefinitely. What is to happen when these individuals, myself included, have had enough? I have frequently called for help on Council and the response has just not been enough to sustain what we are doing, or help us adapt to new technologies or the profile we need. The steady loss in membership is clear evidence of this. In the box there is a list of tasks that Council has identified which need to be done immediately. Please come forward and help to spread the load.
I recently attended a CRT Navigation Advisory Group meeting. What a pleasure it was to talk about the essential boaty issues of service points, lock furniture, vegetation and dredging. No lawyers or mooring plans in sight. What a change and what a relief! The meeting was very constructive and open, and CRT asked for guidance on many issues.
EA has recently announced that it will continue to apply increases to registration fees at 2% above inflation (see the report in this issue). I am really disappointed with this outcome, particularly after the CRT announcement to limit increases to inflation only, for 3 years after next year. EA of course is still in a beauty contest to join CRT in 2015. It is very important for them to maintain the already high level of asset condition, because this will be one of the significant issues if CRT is to be persuaded to take them over. Obviously they are not persuaded that fee increases would impact on boater numbers. In fact registration income could be expected to continue to rise due to the very active enforcement on boat registration.
I am delighted that the Aylesbury Canal Society has, at last, the agreements and money in place to start on their new facility just out of the town. This friendly group of boat lovers have been planning and hoping for this move from the Town Basin for many years. I wish them a speedy construction and good moorings in Circus Field.