The NABO AGM will be held on Saturday 14 November at 10.45am immediately followed by a Council meeting. The meeting will be held as a free dial-in teleconference. Please email Mark Tizard, clickhere and send an email. if you wish to attend and you will be sent an agenda plus dial-in details. We look forward to hearing from you. The response to the CRT terms and condition consultation will be discussed.
Covid 19 situation. The announcement for England this afternoon is not what we would wish for. The Government FAQ’s are here. This includes the list of any local restrictions which continue to change, bearing in mind that Scotland and Wales do their own thing. Keep an eye on CRT’s website for any changes as to whether the system remains open. CRT will be sympathetic towards any boaters needing to self-isolate; concerned boaters should contact their local customer support officer. We can all see that this is not going well at the moment so take care out there
NNUF. Mike Rodd attended a meeting of EA's National Navigation Users Forum on the 6 October. Dominated by long presentations updating delegates on how EA had coped with the lockdown, an important part of the meeting was an update on the strategic review of navigation charges which had started before the lockdown. The work has been held back because of the lockdown etc and registration charges for 2021 will be the same as for 2020. Of interest also was the vast number of canoes, paddleboards etc that have arrived on the rivers and canals over the past months. British Canoeing reported that they have had over 25,000 new members! NABO reported that many of these new users did not seem to understand the rules applicable to our waterways.
NINF. Mike Rodd attended a regular meeting of the National Inland Navigation Forum (NINF) on the 17 October, bringing together representatives of NABO, RBOA, CBOA, DBA,TBA, HNBC and the General Secretary, Michael Stimpson. The meeting stated by looking at CRT's request for input on the handling of the over-populated situation on the London waterways and it was agreed that the problem in London (and elsewhere on the system) was folk who had no interest in the waterways buying boats to live on. The next major issue was the (so-called) consultation by CRT on proposals to change the Terms & Conditions of private boater licences. It was agreed that proposals were badly written, unclear, rather confusing, and could well contravene the requirements of the Waterways Act. NABO advised that we were taking legal advice. The next key concern was the appointment of District Enforcement, a car parking company, to enforce against mooring overstaying on the Thames -see comments below. Finally, issues of shared ownership craft which were being rented out, for example, via Airbnb, were also discussed.
TNUF. Mike Rodd attended a meeting of the Thames Navigation Users Forum on the 20 October, with a rerun of the NNUF materials with of course, more reference to the Thames situation. The overview of Thames work being undertaken now and in the near future was particularly impressive and it is clear that the additional funding provided was being well used. Of special importance was the presentation by the MD of District Enforcement, the car-parking company awarded (in somewhat odd and non-user consulted) circumstances, the contact to monitor and then enforce short-term moorings on the majority of EA's Thames' sites. It was stated that an aim and objective of the contract was to "increase the number of enforcement actions, particularly the serving of Mooring Charge Notices". Having queried this, Mike Rodd was told that that the EA feels that it was quite appropriate to operate a car-parking approach to their moorings, and if users chose to overstay, then the proposed charges were fully acceptable.
Thames mooring enforcement. Of importance was that a few days after the above meeting a copy of the proposed mooring notice produced by District Enforcement regarding this scheme was sent to all representatives for comment. NABO joined DBA and the RBOA in strongly objecting to this notice feeling that it was an aggressive and unwelcoming approach indicated by this signage. Users had been given to understand that the intent was to achieve effective management of short-term moorings and not a modified car parking scheme designed to deter anyone from mooring. Legal advice has been taken with the assistance of the Royal Yachting Association and the joint submission and RYA lawyer's comments etc can be found at:here
Meeting with CRT. On 15 October Mike Rodd and Mark Tizard attended a virtual meeting with Matthew Symonds, CRT Head of Boating, and Matthew Aymes, CRT head of customer support and licensing. The main subject on the agenda was the terms and conditions consultation. On the proposed changes to boats with a home mooring, yet again there were no figures available to quantify the size of the problem. We understand that there has not been any successful enforcement action on boats without home mooring “shuffling”, which was said to be a problem in the 2015 consultation. On the other areas of concern, there was lot more apparent flexibility to amend the wording which would mitigate many of our concerns. More at the AGM.
We raised concerns about the high level of stoppages due to infrastructure failures. CRT stated that there had been no change in their inspection regime and they were reviewing why there had been so many failures. We raised concerns that often single paddle failures remained unfixed and were advised this was not policy and they should be fixed.
Terms and Conditions Consultation. First if you haven’t already, please plan to complete the consultation. There is plenty of time to do so. The nature of the web response page is such that you are best prepared by writing your responses on a text editor, and cutting and pasting them in. If you lose internet half way though you may lose your carefully crafted words. It will be quite hard to make a response on a mobile device. We have prepared a searchable pdf of the consultation document and put this on the website. You can extract text out of it should you wish. You have received our email sent recently outlining your Council’s concerns. Our legal advisers have commented and confirmed our view that the proposals regarding boats with a home mooring exceeds CRT’s powers under the relevant Acts. We shall discuss in detail at the AGM. The consultation can be foundhere.
London Congestion. CRT has launched a consultation seeking boaters’ views on how to alleviate congestion. You can see it here. Somewhat surprisingly, seeing as numbers have appeared to plateau in the last couple of years. The London strategy document, which took 3 years and was published during 2018, made many commitments but many have yet to be implemented due to CRT’s financial constraints. There is no explanation as to why the current strategy has failed or why any new strategy will succeed. Our concern with both these consultations (as has been the case in the past) is that CRT has already decided on their preferred outcome. In the meantime many boaters regard London as a no-go area.
CRT Annual Report. CRT has published their annual report which is available on their website. 2019/20 saw an increase in both income and expenditure on the canal system but the financial effects of current pandemic are as yet unquantified. There is a boater report too here.
CRT licence increase. From April 2021 licence fees will increase by 2% for narrowboats and 7% for wide-beams. Boaters are encouraged to renew online to claim a 2.5% discount. The prompt payment discount remains at 2.5% (formerly 5%).
Red diesel. The consultation is now closed. It is a good time to write to your MP and ask him/her to contact the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and request that he provides an exemption to inland waterways craft from the Treasury proposals that require the use of white diesel for craft propulsion. We now understand that the proposal would include commercial craft and they too would have to use white diesel. We thought that waterborne transport needed support, not taxing?
Online Passage Booking. CRT has expanded the current booking system. From 2 November 2020, you’ll now also be able to book the following passages online: The first three - Braunston Tunnel; Saddington Tunnel and Blisworth Tunnel - need to be booked if you have a wide-beam; Thames Lock; Boston Tidal Lock; Newlay & Kirkstall Forge Locks; Bingley Three and Five Rise Locks and Harecastle Tunnel. They join the likes of the Ribble Link and Standedge Tunnel which already use the online booking.
Heritage Grant. CRT has been awarded over £1.6m in funding for 17 projects across the country. The funding, which has been awarded via the Heritage Stimulus Fund, will help the charity’s work including projects with Hunts Lock on the River Weaver, Sawley Locks 1 and 2 on the River Trent, Diglis Lock 1 where the River Severn meets the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, Soulbury Three Locks on the Grand Union Canal, and Wigan Flight Lock 71 on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, which all received grants.
Navigation advisory group. There has been no meeting but there has been considerable on line discussion about the passage booking system. Two issues come up: first Harecastle is no longer turn up and go. Boaters have to book, and there are logistical problems with planning this because of the lack of safe moorings nearby. Anderton is also fully booked now and it costs £5 so there is no free option. Are CRT using this to make ad hoc charges? This will be on the agenda for the December meeting. We understand that the vegetation team continue to work on the mowing maps for next year. These are not yet published, but if you want to see your chosen area, ask the regional customer service team. We also understand that CRT have instructed Fountains (again) to ensure that all woody growth is removed on the towpath, fringe and washwall during the winter cut to edge. This has to be completed by the end of March 2021.
BSS AC. Alison Tuck and David Fletcher will attend a virtual meeting of the Advisory Committee on 3 November. There has been no other meeting this year due to Covid, so this will be a state of nation event.
The next issue of NABO News will be prepared following the AGM with a copy date of 21 November. Please get your items into the editor.
The AGM and the next NABO Council meetings will be by teleconference on Saturday 14 November at 10.45. 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.
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