We are looking for some help. NABO Council is made up of a small group of volunteers - boaters like you. We meet either physically or by teleconference around six times a year for a couple of hours, to discuss issues of concern and plan for action. To be direct, the coming years are likely to present substantial challenges to boaters. Recently you will have noticed that CRT has not been focussed on boaters and the maintenance of navigation and we need help to change their priorities. Infrastructure failures are increasing, facilities are under pressure, dredging and vegetation management remains a concern. Financial pressures are increasing on the Trust, which is shortly to start renegotiating its grant with a financially constrained government.
Without your help we are struggling to be as effective as we would like. Do you think you could help us? From being eyes and ears and a conduit to CRT regions or by joining us on our Council teleconferences and sharing your views. Please spare a little time for the benefit of your fellow boaters. Drop me a quick email to email@example.com or call Mark on 07818 757 676
Covid 19 situation. The latest Government FAQ’s are here. This includes the list of local restrictions which continue to change. Needless to say, this has all gone to rack and ruin in the month with the rule of six and widespread restrictions. Look out for Llangollen and Liverpool. Stay safe out there.
Stoppage notices. Short-term stoppages continue to come up, quite apart from the trees down in the last couple of weeks. The Caldon is closed because of a lift bridge strike and the Rochdale for a failed culvert. The Macc locks have been closed for a few days because of water shortages. Keep an eye on the stoppages if you are cruising.
CRT Licence terms. CRT has just invited feedback on its proposed changes to the terms and conditions of its private boat licence. The T&Cs were last updated in 2015, although they in large part remained the same. After a review, CRT is proposing some changes in their words, to make them clearer and strengthen them to protect both boat owners and CRT. NABO will be discussing its response at the forthcoming Council meeting on 10th October so please let us have YOUR views as soon as possible. We will be revisiting previous legal advice and may take further advice depending on CRT’s proposals. In due time, we encourage all members to complete the online survey which highlights the changes between the proposed and existing terms. The consultation gots underway on Monday 28th September and will run for 12 weeks. Read about it here.
EA mooring enforcement. The EA has advised that the car-parking enforcement company, District Enforcement (DE), has been awarded the contract to enforce mooring regulations on the Thames. This is an odd decision as DE's participation in the recent trials was deeply unpopular with boaters, whilst the other participant in the trials, Thames Visitor Moorings, received much support.
Avon incident. The draining of a section of the River Avon in Bath caused the stranding and sinking of many boats. EA say that the Twerton sluice gate ‘had a software failure’ resulting in a sluice opening. The river level suddenly dropped by 1.8m, damaging around 47 boats, some seriously. CRT with the help of RCR are aiding the major recovery effort. Three boats have had to be removed and others are currently being lifted for inspection. The communications and support from the EA look to have been clear and regular. Investigations continue as to reasons behind the fault and the gates are being manned until this is discovered. This has happened before of course, at the same place in 2019, and on the Medway in 2010. This is unforgivable.
Red and white diesel. NABO has recently submitted its response to the Government’s consultation on red diesel. You can read it here. The following extract from one of the questions gives a good summary of our response: ‘As mentioned, over 451,000 inland waterways boats are involved, of which a high proportion use red diesel for heating as well as for propulsion. In practice, most users will vary from 60/40 to 10/90 depending on boat use and time of use. There must be flexibility. Assuming 60/40 for everyone does not work. There are growing numbers of liveaboard boaters, estimated at 30% of the total, who move a short distance every two weeks as required by the Canal and River Trust. Their diesel use is predominately for power generation and the provision of hot water. There are many craft in marinas that never leave their moorings and 100% of fuel is used for domestic services. Not permitting the use of, or increasing the cost of, red diesel will have an immediate effect on these users.’ The consultation closes on 1st October, so there is just time to make a response. See here Section 5.30 – 5.45 covers private pleasure boats.
Towpath safety. CRT has recently launched its new towpath campaign ‘Stay Kind, Slow Down’. No doubt as a result of further complaints from NABO and others of the perils of encountering aggressive and/or speeding cyclists. Whilst many cyclists are sensible, you do wonder why CRT is surprised that the increased graded surfacing of towpaths has resulted in faster cyclists. Please report all incidents. NABO recently wrote to Julie Sharman, the Chief Operation Officer of CRT, about e-scooters and unpowered craft, which ‘coincidently’ prompted a response covering most of these issues in the latest Boater’s Update and new advice for cyclists on stopping distances.here.
Winter moorings for 2020/21 will be available for up to four months between Sunday 1 November 2020 until Sunday 28 February 2021. Permits will go on sale at 6am on Thursday 1 October on a first-come, first-served basis. Winter moorings give boaters who don't already have a permanent mooring a chance to moor up for the winter months, while keeping enough space clear for those who want to continue cruising. This year, prices have increased again between 3 and 5%. Before booking a winter mooring, please check the winter stoppages to ensure that works will not prevent you from reaching or leaving your intended mooring.
CRT Council. Helen Hutt, NABO treasurer and elected boater’s rep, recently attended a CRT Council meeting. She reports on the financial and progress position, following Toddbrook, the gales and Covid 19. You can read about them here and in the next NN.
Winter works. The CRT repair programme is costed at £45m, the usual welcome major repairs. The details are here. This winter the Trust will be hosting a series of online open days. With the limitations around people meeting face-to-face, these online events will showcase the work that goes on during the winter to keep the canal network open and available for people to use and enjoy.
Toddbrook. CRT have been consulting locally on the proposed rebuild of the resevoir spillway. You can see the details here.
Hammersmith Bridge. This key Victorian bridge over the Thames in West London is suffering in it's old age. It is currently closed to foot, road traffic and river navigation. So don’t go planning on a pool of London passage for a year or two. Details here.
NAG Vegetation. A NAG team walked the north end of the Trent and Mersey in September with national and regional CRT staff. The object was to look again at the mowing and offside cutting carried out in the year and confirm the intended mapping and specification changes to address the issues. The T&M was the NAG team’s choice, because many of the well-known issues are on full display. It is very apparent that the local team is very conscious of written complaints and comments, and we ask that all members make their views known directly. CRT is retendering the Fountains’ contract next year, and now is the time to lock in any changes needed to cutting plans.
NNUF. Mike Rodd will attend the National Navigation Users Forum meeting in October. He will also represent NABO at the meeting of TNUF (Thames Navigation Users Forum) on the 6th October. Plenty there to talk about.
NINF. Mike Rodd will attend the regular meeting of the National Inland Navigation Forum on the 20th October - bringing together most boater representative organisations. This is very timely for the boater's terms consultation.
CRT catch up. On 15th October, Mike Rodd and Mark Tizard will have their regular meeting with Matthew Symonds of CRT.
The September issue of NABO News is with the printers now and will be on the mat any day. It is already on the web site.
The next NABO Council will be a teleconference on Saturday 10th October at 10.15. Members are very welcome to take part, in fact we really need you to take part. Please let us know so that we can make arrangements.
The next edition of NABO News will be prepared after the AGM and November Council meeting. Please get your items and towpath horror stories in to the editor.
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