Covid 19 situation. The lockdown imposed after Christmas resulted again in the requirement that there should be no unnecessary movement. The Prime Minister said this week that there will be no change in the immediate days and the next review is in March. At last we see that the confirmed cases are decreasing in most areas although hospital cases are yet to show a significant drop. We are assuming that this lockdown will continue to Easter and that we will then return to areas in tiers depending on the cases and hospital capacity. The good news is that vaccinations are rolling out well. If you are not registered with a doctor, it is a good time to do so.
CRT website says: All navigation in England and Wales should be limited to essential use only. Boaters who are not currently occupying their boat should not take short overnight breaks on their boat during the period. Those living aboard are advised to limit their navigation, moving only a minimal amount to access essential facilities or services when necessary. Please moor considerately. Boat licence terms & conditions regarding moving every 14 days will be suspended until the restrictions come to an end. If you have any questions, please contact your licence support officer. Our towpaths remain open for people to enjoy exercise and being in the outdoors, close to nature.
The EA requirements are here.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/environment-agency-waterways-coronavirus-covid-19-update
Members are advised to continually check both CRT’s and EA’s websites for advice on cruising and visiting boats during the current Covid crisis. We recommend also checking for winter stoppages as many dates are slipping as works often need to be reprogrammed with trees down and other unplanned events continuing to occur.
Winter stoppages. The CRT stoppage works are now in full swing. The list is here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/report/winter-notices.pdf.
The Cheshire area is suffering at the moment with several unplanned stoppages. The Shropshire Union canal is closed from Audlem to Ellesmere Port with one breach and one collapsed culvert, a pollution incident at Calveley. There are also landslides further south at Woodseaves Cutting and at Anderton.
CRT terms. Mike Rodd has had a conversation with Jon Horsfall who thanked NABO for our detailed response to the terms and conditions consultation. CRT will respond in detail once they have analysed all the responses in more detail.
London congestion. NABO submitted its response to the London Congestion Consultation which closed earlier this month. In essence our view is that after spending several years engaging with London boaters to arrive at the 2018 London strategy it would be sensible to implement and assess the effectiveness of all the proposed improvements before starting the process again.
CRT have published a breakdown of the improvements made and expected since 2018. You can read it here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/refresh/media/thumbnail/43138-london-mooring-strategy-ongoing-works-january-2021.pdf. It’s perhaps a little optimistic. The Islington moorings have yet to be commissioned and the document ignores the facilities that have been lost recently.
CRT has also just published a summary of the initial consultation. https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/about-us/where-we-work/london-and-south-east/managing-boats-on-londons-busy-waterways
They are now entering a second phase where they will appoint an independent agency to carry out a more in-depth engagement with liveaboard boaters using the London canals and navigations. This, it is hoped, will give them more insight into the issues and needs of these boaters and help to inform a final proposal for managing London's busy waterways. Of particular concern is the low level of customer satisfaction in the London area.
CRT 6 month licences. We have been advised that CRT is continuing to offer restricted licences to boaters who are not travelling far enough despite the impact of Covid on navigation and isolation. NABO is monitoring the situation and supporting one member. We have been contacted by several members regarding accessing the Covid vaccination. Members should be aware that everyone is entitled to become a temporary patient see
This could be useful given the fact that some boaters are probably registered many miles away from their lockdown location. It is not surprising there are concerns. We have made CRT aware that boaters will also need to remain close/return to the area in 12 weeks for the second jab that may have cruising/enforcement implications should the lockdown be lifted.
Enforcement. CRT has had to return a boat that had been seized by its subcontractors, Commercial Boat Services, for not having a licence, because of an error made by its online licensing system. The owner applied online for a 12-month Rivers Only licence, paid for it, and was provided with a correct receipt for the licence. However, the CRT online licensing system recorded this as a 6-month Standard Canal and River Licence, which happened to be the same price.
Mooring on EA waters. Despite deep reservations from all the main boater representative organisations on the Thames (including NABO), and adverse legal advice from the RYA, the EA has gone ahead with plans to use a car-parking company to monitor and, where they consider necessary, fine uses up to £150 for overstaying at all the EA short-stay moorings along the whole of the non-tidal Thames. The organisations all agreed that the measures are inappropriate, aggressive and possible illegal. This whole system was due to start early in January. However the EA has just announced that due to the present lockdown the system will not be introduced for 3 months!! NABO has advised its members that when the system is introduced, to obey the instructions regarding notifying the operators when they arrive at these moorings etc.
NINF. On 28 January NABO joined with other members of The National Inland Navigation Forum at a meeting with CRT's senior management to discuss its concerns about many aspects of the proposals by CRT to make changes to its Terms and Conditions for private boat licences.
CRT on line survey. NABO was asked to bring to its members' attention a survey of Boating Experiences & Expenditures over the past year, organised apparently by the British Marine and CRT. However, this very badly structured survey proved to be very long and requested so much detail regarding expenditure that few have been able to complete it. NABO contacted CRT expressing its concern about the survey and it was discovered that senior members of CRT were not aware of it!
BSS Technical Committee. Mike Rodd and David Fletcher attended a virtual meeting of the TC on 26 January. This meeting reviewed final amendments to the Examination Checking Procedure Part 7 (Gas) and reviewed a further boater appeal. These meetings are working well now, with effective discussions and economical on time and travel expenses.
CRT Forums. Howard Anguish attended the event on 12 January for the NE. A full report is in the next NABO News.
NAG. David Fletcher attended a virtual meeting of the veg sub group on 18 January. There was a further review of the mowing maps for cutting this coming season. CRT has now mapped the bridge holes and made a first pass at mapping the line of sight cutting needed on the towpath side. These maps will now be used by Fountains and it is up to local user groups to finalise the cutting needed with the regions, particularly for country moorings. It needs local knowledge and cannot be done centrally. Over to you all.
CRT Boaters rep meeting. Helen Hutt attended a Boaters' Reps Meeting on 27 January. The main topic was the London Mooring Strategy: the initial findings were published on 26 January and there is now to be a further verbal survey, by an independent agency, involving around 40 London boaters and four boating organisations - including NABO. There was concern that the simultaneous press release contained some potentially misleading facts around achievements to date; and about the disparity between the quoted £2.2m/year budget for London Waterways and the expenditures: £125k (2020) and proposed £190k (2021). We were told there is provision for some 'big ticket items', e.g. Elsan points which cost £150k-200k each, and were promised a breakdown of the budgeted figure. CRT will produce a proposal late March which will then go out to consultation for three months, so there is likely to be little or no impact before 2022. However, we were worried that, especially with CRT's income inevitably falling during the pandemic, some works may have to be sacrificed. We were told 'No, there is a plan!'
CRT Forums. The only regional one posted still to come is the one for Wales and South West which will be on 10 February 5pm. Please register here:
There is a forum for disabled boaters to express their views on 15 February 4pm. Please register here:
NAG. David Fletcher will attend a video meeting of the Navigation Advisory Group on 22 February. The agenda has not been set as yet.
We have recently updated information about the availability of the excellent quality NABO clothing. Please see the following for full details:
The first 2021 edition of NABO News has just gone to the printers and will be on the website and with you in February.
The next NABO Council will be a teleconference on Saturday 13 March at 10.00. 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.
Web Master on behalf of NABO Council
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