NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BOAT OWNERS

Listening to boat owners, Speaking out for boat owners, Representing boat owners.

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Letter to members – CRT’s T&Cs

Anne Husar finds key issues not consulted on, which could negatively impact boaters.

As many of you will be aware, there has recently been yet another revision of CRT’s Terms and Conditions (T&C’s) for private boaters. This latest publication follows their admission of ‘errors’ in previous drafts which has now led to two of the more contentious conditions being removed. There are now, we think, three differing versions of this document in circulation with the potential to cause much confusion. For our purposes here we are referring to the document referenced by CRT as 15.6.21 v.2.

As many of you are also aware, NABO Council has been carefully scrutinising these developments and, as a result of NABO’s comments, significant changes were made to the readability of the Privacy policy and the corrected GDPR document. It has been reworded to make it easier to understand but there remain some parts that could be improved. Certainly many of the typos and much random use of capital letters throughout the T&Cs document that made it such an annoying read were quickly removed when we pointed out what a shoddy publication they had produced. So, where are we now?

We feel that there remain four key issues some of which were not consulted on and which could impact negatively on boaters.

A blow-by-blow account of the terms

In mid-2020, CRT commenced a consultation on the private boat licence terms and conditions. They did not invite comment on the whole document, but limited the consultation to nine items of change.

NABO made three submissions: on the consultation; on the privacy policy and a third on the readability of the terms and privacy documents. The consultation closed in December 2020. We chased CRT on several occasions for responses to our submissions. CRT did not ask us for other assistance on revisions to the wording.

On 24th May 2021, CRT announced the publication of the results of the consultation. This comprised a press release, a close out commentary on the consultation and a first version of the 2021 terms document. CRT said: ‘The consultation received widespread support, with 78% of respondents in agreement across all nine proposals, ranging from 63% to 88% for individual proposals. The consultation was completed by over 3,300 individuals, around 10% of our boat licence holders. The changes will come into effect from 1 June 2021 and will be applied to renewals and new licences from that date.’ 

On 27th May 2021 NABO Council met to review the documents and consider our immediate responses.

On 28th May, we received a response letter from CRT covering the privacy policy issues. This successfully resolves a number of issues about the CRT documents, with a commitment to modify them. On the same day, CRT published the revised documents and some but not all licence holders have received emails. The changes could not be identified and were not reported.

Disabled boaters’ forum

Ken Hylins reports on the meeting on 12th April.

I attended this meeting for the first time with an open mind as to what to expect. There were seven people in the Zoom meeting: Matthew Symonds (Chairing) and Rachel Heywood from CRT, a waterway chaplain and other people with an interest in this matter. The following points were brought up at the meeting:

1. CRT spotters are beginning to assess towpaths and structures with regard to disability access, which will take time to complete. However, there will be a charge to get the final publication. A private boater is travelling the cut assessing the canal as regards disabled access. I raised the possibility of using boating organisations’ feedback to help with this matter.

2. CRT would like people/boaters to send a short video saying what they think is important for their staff to consider when dealing with disabled issues and the consideration needed.

3. All future work carried out by CRT will consider disabled needs.

4. CRT is looking to increase the number of marked disabled moorings.

5. The recent equality questionnaire was considered to be invasive. It was stated that this document is being rewritten for clarity and understanding (well done David Fletcher!).

6. The issue of reduced moorings fees for disabled people was brought up two years ago and CRT was criticised for having taken no action on this matter.

7. It was also stated that CRT has difficulty implementing adjustments on rivers as they often don’t own the land.

8. CRT also said that boaters should get help in getting moorings and support from their local welfare and support officer. I challenged this statement as totally incorrect as there is little or no support on this matter for a boater. Mathew Symonds requested to have a meeting with me to follow up my concerns. In conclusion, I found it of value to be able to find out what is going on and the proposed adjustments being considered. I feel there is also value in this forum in raising issues on behalf of NABO members - the shame effect. I will be attending the next meeting on behalf of NABO, but I have an open mind. It gives us another platform to work on and more contacts to work with.

 

Heritage and the Canal and River Trust.

During the last century, British Waterways began the sale of canalside properties, listed or otherwise, and this has been continued over the years by the Canal and River Trust (CRT). Although a recent Freedom Of Information request asking how many listed buildings have already been sold was denied, seasoned boaters and canal enthusiasts could easily compile a list of exceptional buildings that have already been sold off, to the absolute detriment of the UK’s historic and unique canal system.

So much has been sold that the reality is that only the really iconic properties are now left and so they have become threatened too. Two recent examples that illustrate CRT’s lack of care towards the heritage they are supposed to be cherishing are the Stop House at Braunston and the Toll House at Pontymoile. How shameful that the campaign group Save Britain’s Heritage felt it could add the iconic Stop House to its ‘at risk’ register. The future for this historic canalside building remains uncertain. Social media pressure was such that the equally important Toll House has been withdrawn temporarily at least from auction but again, its future has not been decided.

Lockdown lock use

- CRT’s annual lockage report for 2020

The headline figure, comparing 2020’s lock use with the previous year, is that there was a reduction of almost 33% across 172 comparison sites. In the week before the first lockdown in March, there were some 3,500 weekly lock counts, which fell to fewer than 1,000 during lockdown. From early July, when boaters were able to cruise freely again, lockage numbers soared to more than 12,000 per week and remained at this level for most of the summer, with a peak of 13,700 in mid-August. As in previous years, the twinned Hillmorton Locks 2 and 3 on the North Oxford Canal were the busiest with 5,933 lockages, a drop of 29% on 2019. Next was Cholmondeston Lock on the Shroppie with 5,346 lockages (also down 29%), followed by Woodend Lock on the T & M at 4,450 lockages. The least-used lock was Graving Lock, which links the Shroppie to the River Dee, with 28 lockages for the year. The report can be found at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/lockages.