In this paper, NABO is responding to CRT’s recent consultation and Zoom meetings, seeking suggestions from boaters to further address congestion, principally in the London area.

For several years, CRT sought views via the Boater Relationship Group and subsequently, when this collapsed, it facilitated meetings that resulted in the publication of its London Strategy document in June 2018. This document outlined the actions that CRT would take to address congestion in London.

We are concerned that CRT is seeking to repeat this exercise without first implementing a significant number of the promised outcomes. Surely, after all the effort that went into the 2018 strategy document, it would make sense to implement it in full and then carry out a review of where the strategy had worked or failed, before seeking to repeat the exercise. By CRT’s own figures  the numbers of boats have not risen substantially since the strategy was published. The effects of the current pandemic have seen boats spread out further and the longer-term implications are as yet unclear.

At a short, combined CRT Council and AGM in November, last year’s annual report and accounts were accepted. Topics of particular note included:

  • Application for renewal of the Defra Grant – which accounts for about a quarter of CRT’s income – will be submitted on 6th December; whilst the Government is under no obligation to extend the grant beyond 2026/7, CRT feels that a solid case is being made for increased funding. A decision is expected in July 2022.
  • Covid-19 continues to throw up challenges but winter works should proceed unhindered and the impact on income is estimated at -10%. A special fundraising appeal, launched the previous day, drew 450 responses in the first few hours. However, Friends numbers have fallen nearly 7% over the year.
  • T&Cs consultation: CRT reports a ‘net positive’ result so far, whilst acknowledging some proposals need more clarity ..... that doesn’t seem to chime with what we see and hear!

Updated 30 November 2020

You should have recently received an email from CRT with a link to a consultation for a proposal to further change the licence terms and conditions.  We encourage you to complete the consultation. If you do not have the CRT email, the web page can be found here. It is now time to have your say. The consultation closes on 21 December 2020.

Your recent AGM and Council meeting reviewed the consultation and is now drafting the Associaiton's formal response. We have the benefit of legal advice. In general whilst Council is sympathetic with CRTs needs to manage its waterways, we are concerned that wording is one sided, not proportional and attempts to take powers not granted to it in the relevant Acts.

We have the following concerns:

In spring 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement spurred CRT into commissioning Dr Jodie Matthews, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, to undertake literature research into people who had made their wealth through the slave trade and invested the profits in canal building. She also investigated canals that were built specifically to carry goods derived from the exploitation of slaves – especially tobacco, cotton and sugar – and how these canals led to the development of cities such as Liverpool, Bristol and Manchester. Examples cited in the review are: 1) Moses Benson, a Liverpool slave-trader, who owned a ‘palace mansion’ in the city and invested in canals, leaving 230 shares in the Lancaster Canal in his will; 2) Lowbridge Bright was a wealthy Bristol West India merchant who sat on the Committee of the Thames and Severn Canal Company; 3) George Hyde Clarke, who inherited a sugar estate and 220 enslaved people, was a promoter, shareholder and committee member of the Peak Forest Canal Company; 4) Robert Milligan was a prominent Scottish merchant and slave-owner, who was the driving force behind the construction of the West India Docks in London.

The review can be found at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk > search ‘transatlantic slavery’.

This is a snapshot notes from the online CRT Council Meeting on 23 September 2020.  Complete Minutes will be available in a week or so at https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/meetings/42458-23-september-2020-19th-council-meeting