Both the K&A and the Mon & Brec have seen very welcome and extensive winter work, and on the K&A we were delighted to see that CRT is at last introducing so-called ‘composite’ lock gates – basically steel but with sacrificial wooden components. Both Canal Trusts have been working on these for some five years and have installed sets on the non-CRT part of the Mon & Brec. With costs similar to wooden gates, but having lives of up to 100 years there is no argument! Do they look odd? When showing them to some senior CRT folk, they asked where they were – all they could see was normal gates. They were then told they were sitting on them!

Extensive cutting back of vegetation has generally been well done, although the towpaths have often been left in very dubious states. On the K&A, there continues to be a lack of boating facilities, made worse this year by those at Hortons Bridge being removed by the pub owner because of local abuse - mainly by non-boaters. While restoration of the water point is promised, CRT has just announced that the bins will not be restored - resulting in a 3½ mile trip to the nearest ones. But, from the start of the year, we have the excellent and well-liked (by boaters) Mark Evans back as the Regional Director.

Mike Rodd

From Ken Hylins

I attended the Regional Forum on November 19th, where the Regional Manager put forward his aims and projections for the coming year. He has been heavily involved in the Toddbrook  Reservoir issue, using up much of his time, and he reiterated that the repair would not come out of CRT’s budget. The concern will be the loss of its water to the respective canals if we have low rainfall next year. Then there followed a presentation of all the sub-area managers’ aims and responsibilities, stating with vigour their staff numbers and the skills at their disposal. However, my concerns are that there is a small number of staff per area of responsibility; staff are complaining that they are run ragged and any compound issue that I see would be a problem. The one thing that was apparent was that the manager wanted issues to be related to customer services so that, once raised, they could be dealt with.

There was mention of canalside vegetation regarding offside and towpath maintenance. This was a tricky subject as there were many points raised by the canal societies. There was also a presentation of future areas of work, which can be obtained from the CRT website. The recurring theme was that to get things done in the North West, report it, and if it does not get any attention, follow it up until the matter is attended to or acknowledged. I feel we have the necessary channels to raise our membership concerns within the North West region.