Editor, Peter Fellows, describes some current threats to boating and why you can help NABO.
CRT’s Annual Report, published in July, makes for mixed reading: income and expenditure on the waterways were up in all areas over the year, but boater satisfaction declined significantly. CRT attributes this to ‘disruption due to summer water shortages, changes to licence fees, concerns about network maintenance, and concerns about the Trust’s repositioning.’ Correspondence in this issue and social media posts by NABO members and other boaters suggests that failing or leaking locks, overgrown vegetation and CRT’s inability to control speeding towpath cyclists are more likely causes of boaters’ dissatisfaction. I have devoted a significant section of this issue to problems caused by towpath lycra-louts and possible ways that CRT could address them.
There is also the looming threat of a change in the law regarding use of red diesel, which can only result in increased costs to already hard-pressed boaters (unless everyone gets a trading licence and becomes exempt!). I have included NABO’s response to the HMRC consultation on the effects of these proposed changes and also a response to Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation on new local cycling and walking infrastructure plans.
Graham Clarke gives a critique of CRT’s resubmitted plans for the development of Marple Wharf, thrown out by Stockport Council last year; yet another instance of a threat to waterway heritage. Elsewhere, Helen Hutt reports on changes on the River Nene since her last visit and Mike Rodd describes CRT staff changes in Wales and the South-West. In Techies’ Corner, Tony Brookes explains why false readings can occur on temperature and pressure gauges.
Finally, NABO’s AGM is on the horizon in November and I have included a nomination form to stand for the Council. We need new blood to keep NABO up to speed to address boaters’ needs and I would encourage you to consider standing. As it says on the form, “Don't be shy! - being on the Council is rewarding and interesting … and occasionally frustrating. You'll learn what goes on behind the scenes and make new friends into the bargain. I hope to see you at the AGM.