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.
Census: CRT has been developing a census of liveaboard boaters, to better understand this segment of its customers and their needs, and will be inviting all boaters to take part in it later this year, using a short video to explain the purpose of the survey. NABO is happy to support this.
Winter works: The first stage consultation on the stoppage programme is now published on the CRT website (https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/notices/winter-stoppages).
Government grant update: NABO members have written to MPs, many of whom have responded that they know little about canals.
Relationships with regional directors: NABO would like to develop better relationships with CRT’s regional staff, but reported difficulties engaging with directors in London and South East and others. NABO will send CRT the contact details for its regional reps.
Welfare: Michelle Simmonds, the full-time welfare officer, is helping to break down barriers between boaters and the Trust. Sean Williams is working on safeguarding four days a week, and welfare once a week. CRT noted that if communications on its part are a problem, they need to know so that they can remedy this.
London: The consultation on pre-bookable visitor moorings is now completed and CRT is finalising plans to introduce more towpath rangers. The Trust is starting to see the effects of cost of living increases, with higher licence evasion rates. Some local authorities considered looking at accommodation on boats, but as the waterways can only accommodate so few people compared to the scale of the problem, they are not spending any time on this.
Water Safety Zone: there have been safety incidents over the past three months, involving both rowers and powered boats. CRT has a new near miss reporting form online (https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/contact-us/reporting-an-incident-accident-or-near-miss/incident-form) which can collect and collate information more easily.
CRT meetings: These are not being notified on the website and it was agreed that the regions set meeting dates in advance and notify them on the CRT website.
Stoppages: NABO noted that there seem to be more than usual. CRT replied that it has been difficult to recruit staff, both in operations teams and in workshop teams, which, with increasing costs and reduced availability of materials, has created problems. Many canals that were restored 20 – 25 years ago are coming to the point where lock gates, etc. need to be replaced, all at the same time. Reservoir investment is also very high.
The next meeting will be on 24th August at 10.30am at the CRT Hatton office.