Gently down the stream

Editor Peter Fellows sees rivers featuring prominently in this issue.

Since the last issue, NABO Council members have had a series of meetings with senior CRT staff and it is refreshing to note that the dialogue has improved since 12 months ago when, as Mike Rodd says in his Chair’s column: “we felt that CRT was deliberately ignoring us!” This is good news because, as Mike and Mark Tizard report, CRT (and for that matter, the EA) needs boaters to get behind it for the forthcoming negotiations over renewal of its government grant in a few years’ time.

Editor, Peter Fellows has a plea for members to help the association operate effectively.

As 2019 fades into winter with deluges raising river levels across the country, NABO says farewell to Chair, Stella Ridgway and East Midlands Rep., Joan Jamieson, who we thank for all their work over the years. I have also said goodbye to NABO News proof-readers, John and Marion Pearse and Janice Steckerl, who I thank for all their help in correcting my wayward grammar. If you are able to spend a couple of hours, three times per year, proofreading an issue of the magazine in the comfort of your favourite armchair, please get in touch.

Reading Howard Anguish’s Rewind from 15 years ago, support for NABO Council by members was an issue then – and it still is. The Council needs more support for its work in 2020, outlined by Mark Tizard and Mike Rodd as they look at what is likely to arise next year, especially with CRT and the EA. As you will see from the new list of councillors on page 2, many have multiple roles and need help to share the workload. There are also four vacancies for regional reps., to keep an eye on what’s happening in a particular waterway area. The role involves attending local forums and letting the Council know when something important is happening. Again, please consider helping.

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.

More rubbish

Editor Peter Fellows considers the plastics problem.

I think most people would welcome CRT’s ‘Plastics Challenge’, launched in June. Visitors to the waterways are being asked to pick up one piece of litter to prevent the half-million plus pieces of plastic entering the sea from UK canals each year.

Warming climate and relationships?

Editor Peter Fellows detects changes that could affect boaters both negatively and positively.

It’s not yet summer and there are already boating restrictions in place because of damaged or failed infrastructure and low reservoirs, the latter following the lack of winter and spring rainfall after last year’s record-breaking dry summer. In the news section, I’ve listed a summary of restricted lock opening hours, as of the beginning of May, but it can’t be long before other canals with limited reservoir capacity follow suit. I know that UK weather is notoriously variable, but scientists say that climate heating is now a reality. CRT’s Hydrology Unit has plans to mitigate its effects on the waterways, but we should all be doing more individually, whether by supporting Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s kids’ campaign, or reducing our personal impact on the environment. Phasing out the use of gas and diesel will eventually happen and I believe navigation authorities should be planning now to provide facilities for all-electric boats, so that new craft can be built to this specification.