The TMBA have published a summary of the results of the Thames Motor Boaters Survey conducted during October/November this year.
This survey was open to all motorboaters based on or visiting the Environment Agency managed non-tidal Thames during 2021. The TMBA was supported by river user organisations and other interested parties, particularly the Association of Thames Yacht Clubs (ATYC), DBA-The Barge Association (DBA), the Inland Waterways Association (IWA), the National Association of Boat Owners (NABO), and the Residential Boat Owners Association (RBOA).
The document can be downloaded here
We share this sign seen recently.
EA are wondering why users are not very keen on their management style.
The online meeting of TNUF in October was, rather like the recent NNUF meeting, yet another example of how not to use the available technology – in this case a voice-only system was used, with most users being muted until being asked if they had any queries, following the EA presentations. Those who said they did were then noted and given time to comment, but there was really no opportunity for any proper debate, and most queries answered by: “We will take that up after the meeting”. In truth, most of the material presented was a rerun of the NNUF materials with, of course, more reference to the Thames situation. I must say, though, that this time the EA presenters did try not to just read through their previously provided material, but to give what proved to be good summaries. 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 is being well used.
Of special interest to me was the presentation by the Managing Director of District Enforcement (DE), the car-parking company that has been awarded (in somewhat odd and non-user consulted circumstances), the contract to monitor and then enforce short-term moorings on the majority of EA’s Thames sites. The give-away for me was in one of his written statements, that an aim and objective of the contract was to ‘increase the number of enforcement actions, particularly the service of mooring charge notices’. Of course, this does reflect the nature of the contract, in that DE makes its income from this work primarily through user ‘fines’ for overstaying. When I queried this as a ‘prime objective’ of the contract, I was told by the Chair that the EA feels that it is quite appropriate to operate a car-parking approach to their moorings, and if users chose to overstay, then the proposed charges were fully acceptable. To my surprise, I appeared to be one of few user representatives who were concerned about this matter and I can only conclude that most Thames users are happy with this approach.
In August, the foot and cycle access over the bridge was closed after the summer heat wave made cracks in the cast iron supports deteriorate. Because the risk is of sudden collapse, all navigation on the Thames is closed under the bridge as well. The 133-year-old cast iron suspension bridge in west London was closed to motorists in April last year after the faults were detected.
Hammersmith Bridge is an early design of suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames in west London. It links Barnes on the south side of the river to Hammersmith on the north side. It is mostly used by residents on the south side to access London, and there is no direct alternative.
A Government task force has been launched to co-ordinate the bridge rebuild which will take many years and cost around £150m. The owners are Hammersmith and Fulham Council who obviously don’t have that sort of money. Ongoing investigations have been paid for by Transport for London. Proposals for quick fix for residents include a passenger ferry, or temporary foot and cycle bridge.
None of this helps navigation. So for us there are no Pool of London Passages for the foreseeable future, and no cruise boats operating from Hampton Court to central London. And there will be no University Boat races either.
On 3rd March, I represented NABO at the above Forum which brings together relevant EA personnel and representatives of a wide cross-section of users of the Thames, including the eight River User Groups (the RUGs) and many other representative groups. Chaired by the Thames Director, Julia Simpson, the very long meeting was valuable and, above all, illustrated that the new-look EA is making every effort to listen to its key river users in moving its navigational responsibilities forward over the next five years.