Having had virtually unbroken sunshine since the last issue, the waterways have been at their busiest so far this year. But the increased lock usage, coupled with lack of rainfall and reservoir issues, means that it is only a matter of time before we’ll start to see restrictions appearing on some of the more vulnerable canals (like the Chesterfield, L&L, Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Huddersfield Narrow). This is in addition to closures caused by lack of maintenance, as highlighted on the K&A by Mike Rodd in his Chair’s column.
Peter Fellows on upcoming proposals for the BSS and main navigation authorities.
I, like all NABO Councillors, was shocked to hear from John Devonald that he is seriously ill. He has stepped down from his roles with NABO and we all offer him our best wishes.
The future of CRT and the EA waterways will be decided in the next few weeks when the Defra review is submitted for consideration by the Government. As Mike Rodd explains in detail in his Chairman’s column, NABO is committed to supporting continued funding for both organisations. The Council decided that, as part of this support, we should all petition our MPs, asking them to back future funding, and I have included a template for the type of letter that we envisage will have the desired effect.
Peter Fellows outlines some important issues that are expected to feature this year.
As Mike Rodd points out in his Chairman’s column, 2022 is an important year for the future of the waterways, with the Defra review of CRT funding underway as well as the (ongoing and seemingly continuous) reorganisation within the EA navigation division. The outcomes of both are difficult to predict. But, in the wider context of Government spending, many commentators are forecasting a reduction in CRT’s grant and the transfer of the EA waterways to the Trust. Neither gives much cause for optimism. Unless the Defra review recommends sufficient funding for waterway maintenance to halt the deterioration of infrastructure assets, it is difficult to see how the current situation will improve. To achieve this, I and others have long argued for a separation of CRT’s navigation responsibilities from its wellbeing agenda. The waterways are a national asset that requires national (i.e. central Government) funding, with a ring-fenced budget that is realistic to properly maintain them. This would stop the constant (and justified) criticism of CRT for wasting money on signage, PR and other non-waterway expenditure, as described in this issue by Ian Hutson and a letter from Robert Neff.
Editor, Peter Fellows, has a varied selection of articles for the last issue of the year.
At the last Council meeting of the year, councillors thanked Mark Tizard for all his efforts to promote NABO over many years and welcomed Anne Husar as the new Vice-Chair and John Devonald the new General Secretary. New Council member Carolyn (CJ) Green will now be looking after our Twitter account. Mark’s contribution to this edition summarises what he thinks boaters should be ‘shouting from their cabin tops’ about.
As Mike Rodd says in his annual report to the AGM, NABO continues to maintain its membership, where some other boating and waterway organisations are losing members. Certainly, the letters that I have received from members during the year strongly support what NABO is doing. We think that this may include the stance that the association is taking on CRT’s terms and conditions, the loss of waterway heritage, and more recently the problems that boaters are experiencing with Calor Gas supplies. David Fletcher gives an update on the Calor situation, with a complaint being sent to the Competition and Markets Authority. Anne reports on yet more sales of listed waterside properties by CRT and Ian Hutson provides his own inimical take on how CRT could repurpose some of its unused properties and earn an income from quirky holiday lets.
Editor, Peter Fellows, includes a roundup of members’ photos.
It’s been a busy summer on the waterways as many people decided on a ‘staycation’ instead of holidaying abroad, with hireboat companies reportedly fully booked. Unfortunately, those who decided to head north had their travel plans disrupted by a series of stoppages on the Macclesfield, Peak Forest, Leeds and Liverpool and Rochdale canals. Further south those on the Leicester Arm of the GU and the South Oxford did not fare much better. The lack of maintenance brought lock failures and a lack of vegetation management resulted in many members sharing photos of overhanging trees with lines of sight obscured, encroaching reed beds and places where the canals were narrowed to one boat-width. I’ve included a selection of their photos in this issue. The issue of CRT’s revised terms and conditions rumbles on, with letters from members agreeing with NABO’s stance and Mike Rodd further questioning aspects of them in his Chairman’s column. Mike is also delighted that the EA has made a U-turn in employing the car parking company to manage Thames moorings, but is concerned that the waterways may becoming ‘Disneyfied’, like Forestry England’s Westonbirt National Arboretum in an attempt to broaden their appeal to a wider audience to secure further Government funding.