Ken Hylins summarises his work for NABO over the last year.
This year has been a busy one for me: I have been contacted for help on several occasions, be it for advice or to actually get involved to resolve boaters’ issues and concerns. There has been a common theme to all of the issues I have dealt with: a boater tells the respective navigation authority’s welfare and support officer of a problem and there seems to be no resolution. Then I contact the same people and tell them exactly what the boater has said, and then we get to solve their problem with NABO’s intervention. The other issues are a lack of trust by boaters of the respective welfare officer, where I, on behalf of NABO, advise them of how to proceed with their issue and what resolution they should expect.
There has been a long-running case involving an eighty year-old boater, who in my mind was not treated with the dignity and compassion he deserved. However this case has now been successfully resolved and he is getting the care and support he needs. A second case I have been supporting is still active; the boaters in question were treated badly and had lost all trust in the managing authority. Their health is slowly deteriorating and I am active in monitoring their treatment and supporting them through each step. The strangest case of the year was when I had to represent myself. This was a stressful exercise, but it demonstrated to me how problems can arise when your health changes. There was a lack of compassion in my view but again we have resolved the issues.
I still have concerns about dual enforcement (emails that are centrally generated and those from regional officers, which sometimes give conflicting messages), which I keep going on about. I advise people to challenge the messages, as they become a marker on their record for when they renew their licences.
My other area of concern is the process of putting boaters on a six-month licence when it is clear that they are ill, disabled or getting old. This causes a lot of distress to the boaters and, as they are often protected under the Disability Act, in all cases I have got them a full licence again, with CRT reasonable adjustments. There have also been cases when a welfare officer sends a boater a message to say that there is an issue about their cruising pattern. Then the officer is on a two-week holiday and the boater has to wait, adding unnecessary stress before the issue is resolved. I have raised this with a local welfare officer to tell his manager of this issue.
I think that in the coming months I will be helping many boaters with financial issues and I have kept up to date on the costs of boating so that I can give accurate advice. I also keep constantly up to date on the benefits available to help boaters where these are needed.
Meeting with CRT
A summary of the meeting by Mike Rodd and Anne Husar with Matthew Symonds and Rachel Hayward in May.
Facilities review: CRT anticipates that the first part of a consultation will take place later this summer and will cover minimum cruising distances between services (e.g. a five-hour cruising distance, but also take into account exceptions, such as high demand and services supplied by third party providers). It is also looking to run a trial on contactless pumpout payments on one waterway, but is not planning to provide composting sites for separator toilet waste.
Peter Braley reports: On Thursday 25th March I attended via zoom the East Midlands Online Boaters Conference, hosted by CRT. This is the first of these online conferences I have attended and on the whole I found it interesting and quite informative. There is supposed to be a summary and minutes of the meeting being sent out to all attendees but as yet I have not received anything so the following is from memory and a few scribbled notes.
Report on NINF meeting
The National Inland Navigation Forum (NINF) met at the St. Pancras Cruising Club in February. This forum continues to be a useful meeting point, bringing together navigational bodies including CRT, EA and other waterways – especially important at this time, given the on-going saga about the relationship between EA and CRT. Eight of its member bodies were represented, together with the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson, who reported that the NINF’s finances were sound.
Howard Anguish reports on the recent North East Local Waterways forum
I attended this on the 14th April. The venue was our usual one - the Wheatsheaf Conference Centre near Castleford - and was very well attended with a full house.
As far as the meeting was concerned, a forum is usually defined as a meeting where views are exchanged but for the first time in the NE there was no invitation given for input from the floor. Rather it was a set piece delivery of news and information by the local manager and others (including John Dodwell) and understandably, given the recent history of flood devastation in the region - especially the Calder & Hebble and also the Leeds area - the largest portion of the meeting was taken up by a very useful and interesting illustrated presentation by Mike Marshall, the local engineering manager, who took the meeting through the chronology of events and the efforts subsequently made by CRT staff and especially volunteers, to start the massive project to rebuild bridges, towpaths etc. Throughout the meeting praise was quite rightly given to the magnificent input provided by local volunteers and although it will still be some months before things are back to near normal, the situation would have been much worse without their efforts.