Consultations, breaches and closures

but Editor, Peter Fellows, also notes some wonderful weather and meaningful meetings

There’s been a lot happening on the waterways since the last NABO News in July. The summer’s weather has allowed marvellous cruising, but the high temperatures and prolonged drought have also caused problems for CRT’s water management. An article by Adam Comerford, CRT’s National Hydrology Manager, explains how the Trust has responded to maintain navigation on the majority of canals in the face of falling reservoir levels.


The three Rs

- Rebranding, reorganisation and reactions

Editor, Peter Fellows, takes the collective pulse of boaters after the latest changes by CRT.

CRT rebranding continues to provoke reactions, with many questioning why signs that are only read by boaters were changed within days of the relaunch ‒ most boaters know what CRT is. Why not focus the marketing effort on the claimed 90% of people who apparently don’t know that CRT is the authority that manages their nearby waterway? (And also work towards changing the attitudes of some of these people so that they see canals as a resource, rather than a convenient dump for the detritus they no longer want). It would seem that someone in Government must have given CRT the nod that ‘health and wellbeing’ is where the money lies in future. If this is not the case, the change in focus is a huge gamble. Peter Underwood from ‘The Floater’ believes there is another way to fund the Trust and I have included a recent editorial explaining his view. I have also included a letter to boaters from Richard Parry on the rebranding, together with a response from Stella Ridgway and a selection of comments from boaters on social media. There is also a justification for the new logo from its designer. Elsewhere, David Fletcher explains what we need members to do in the light of the new General Data Protection Regulation, together with an update on changes to the way that NABO communicates with its membership.


From the Middle Level to the high seas

Editor, Peter Fellows has a diverse edition for Spring.

I was pleased to see that CRT has suspended the sale of the freehold to Blowers Green Pumphouse (see January’s NABO News), but wish that the relevant advisory groups could review such proposals before they go ahead. CRT has published the results of its licensing consultation, reviewed by Mark Tizard. Most narrowboaters will have to pay about 5% more for their licences year-on-year, so the exercise was not exactly ‘revenue-neutral’ – at least not for boaters. Widebeam owners will have to pay more, but not as much as many feared. During the review, many boaters didn’t see the need for any changes, so with no majority agreement to change anything much, CRT can claim to have listened to its ‘customers’. However, it is difficult to see how the outcome will reduce CRT’s licensing costs, as the system now seems to be more complicated, rather than the intended simplification.

Is anyone listening?

Editor Peter Fellows has a little rant

As 2017 draws to a close, it is clear that CRT is focussed on its grant renewal, which will require it to demonstrate to Government that it has widespread popular support. This means promoting the waterways to millions of walkers, cyclists, canoeists and gongoozlers as part of its wellbeing or ‘green gym’ campaign. The 35,000 boaters are incidental to this. As a result, NABO is becoming increasingly concerned that its voice is not being listened to by senior CRT managers and directors. We are no longer a ‘critical friend’; just critical. Members who attended the AGM in November discussed the long list of recent decisions by CRT that have disregarded the advice offered by NABO (and CRT’s National Advisory Groups), and Fly on the Wall recorded some of these for this issue. There is also an article by Jenny Maxwell, reprinted from a Facebook forum, which sums up the frustrations felt by a large number of boaters and boating organisations. We will wait to see if the recent restructuring of senior CRT staff makes any difference. But let’s not hold our breath ‒ none has boating experience and, with the replacement of Trustee, John Dodwell, this means that there are now no boaters on the CRT Board. The EA doesn’t fare any better: having consulted on proposed increases to boat registration fees, it ignored the consultation findings and went ahead with the original proposals for steep hikes in the costs. A diligent boater has also found that EA’s introduction of charges for mooring on the Thames is illegal.

Consultations, towpath cycling and veg management

Editor Peter Fellows has much for members to comment on: