South West and Wales
A not very well-attended meeting of the South West Users’ Group, with only some 24 folk present (including numerous CRT people) but still a useful and well-structured session. The Regional Director, Mark Evans, gave a slick summary of the past year and, of course, highlighted the difficulties caused by the storms etc. He also emphasised the significant amount of non-boater outreach activities which has been taking place – not surprising, as this is clearly CRT’s current focus, given the soon-to-be-completed government review of waterway’s funding! This presentation left plenty of time for delegate input. Especially worrying was the concern by the volunteers at the famous and unique CRT-owned Claverton pumping station (water-wheel driven) who do all the maintenance and system running, but feel neglected by CRT, with poor support. The National Bargee Travellers Association Chair raised the usual complaints from liveaboard boaters and also the issues relating to the future of the Bridgewater Docks, which had been handed back to the local council by CRT. Personally, I expressed the K&A Canal Trust’s concern about the apparent policy of only fixing paddles when both failed – as is being experienced (for going-on 3 years!) at Dunmill lock on the K&A, with serious issues for the public trip-boats which have to over-run on promised trip timings. Mark promised to sort this out – we shall see!
The Commonwealth Games are coming to Birmingham this summer and there are many events taking place. As part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, celebrating the people, history and stories of our canals, CRT, the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society (BCNS ) and the IWA are organising a parade of boats on the weekend of 24th – 26th June in the City Centre to celebrate boating and the canal heritage of the city. On Friday 24th, boats will gather at a rally organised by BCNS at Smethwick Locks in Galton Valley, where moorings will be available. The following day, boaters will travel into the city and the boat parade will form between Birmingham Roundhouse and Icknield Port. It will then pass through the heart of the city to the Mailbox, returning to moor for the night between the Roundhouse and Icknield Port. The parade will be repeated on the Sunday morning. Entry is free of charge for boaters taking part and each boat will receive a commemorative plaque. Boaters are being asked to showcase and celebrate their crafts and the waterways ‘in the most fun way possible’. Entry forms are available from https://bcnsociety.com/event/commonwealthgamescruise.